Department of Health

Notification procedures for infectious diseases

Key messages

  • Infectious diseases and other conditions of public health concern including COVID-19, frequently occur throughout the world, so constant vigilance is required to minimise their spread.
  • Notification is a vital step in efforts to prevent or control the spread of infection and to prevent further harmful exposures.
  • Notification is required by law and penalties exist for failing to notify.
  • The law exists to protect the public's health and safety.

Public Health and Wellbeing legislation

Part 8 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (the Act) sets out the requirements for notification by medical practitioners, pathology and laboratory services in Victoria. The Act also requires health services and labs to implement processes to ensure that they comply.

Notification is required by law and penalties exists for failing to notify. Notification provides:

  • crucial early warning of potential threats to public health
  • identify emerging trends to guide policy responses and interventions
  • respond to prevent or control the spread of diseases.

Information for medical practitioners

Notifiable conditions, along with the timing and details of their reporting, are specified in Schedule 3 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (the regulations).

When and how to notify

A medical practitioner who reasonably believes that a patient has, or may have, a notifiable condition or has, or may have, died with a notifiable condition must notify as follows:

  • Urgent conditions require notification to the department by telephone on 1300 651 160 (24/7) upon initial diagnosis or clinical suspicion (presumptive or confirmed) as soon as practicable and within 24 hours.
  • Routine conditions require written notification to the department upon initial diagnosis or clinical suspicion (presumptive or confirmed) within five days using either the secure online notification forms or the downloadable forms, available from our Notify a condition now page.

The full list of notifiable conditions and their timings are available from our Notify a condition now page.

Information you need to notify

The information medical practitioners are required to notify under regulation 93 is listed in schedule 3 of the regulations.

To assist prompt and complete notification, we provide secure web forms and downloadable forms for medical practitioners to use for notification. These forms are tailored for each notifiable condition and may also contain enhanced surveillance questions where applicable.

We are authorised to capture additional information to assist investigations, prevent further cases and to inform prevention strategies (including those conditions not or no longer notifiable by medical practitioners).

This additional information is often referred to as investigation data or enhanced surveillance data. This data is mandatory and must be provided by medical practitioners when requested.

Urgent and emerging public health concerns

Section 55 of the Act provides the general authority for medical practitioners to provide us with any case information that relates to an urgent or serious potential public health risk.

Within this authority, medical practitioners are able to highlight cases with an importance to public health, including those that are only required to be notified by pathology services. Examples may include a cluster of severe respiratory disease, a cluster of severe unexplained illness, or illness from suspected exposure to a serious hazard.

The authority provides an additional line of communication and much needed link between medical practitioners, as the day-to-day ‘eyes and ears’ of the Victorian health system, and our department.

The authority may also be used for emerging conditions (identified by the Chief Health Officer or nationally) and increases the sensitivity of the Victorian surveillance system in an era of increasing emerging infections.

Privacy legislation

Commonwealth and State privacy legislation does not negate the requirement to notify the specified conditions or to provide the information requested on these forms. Medical practitioners have a responsibility to inform their patients that their information is being provided to the department and that the department may contact them for further information about their illness.

Patient refusal to allow the disclosure of this information to us

Patients are not allowed to refuse disclosure of this information to our department. This is because this disclosure is a legislative requirement designed to identify causes and risk factors for infectious diseases and other notifiable conditions and to protect public health and safety.

Information for pathology and laboratory services

When and how to notify patient results

Part 8 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (the Act) sets out the requirements for notification by pathology services in Victoria. The Act requires pathology services to implement processes to ensure compliance.

The Act and regulations require that pathology services situated in Victoria and those situated outside Victoria must notify the department of the result of any test conducted on a person who is indicated as permanently or temporarily residing in Victoria where the result of the test indicates the person has, or may have, a condition notifiable in Victoria.

Timing of the notification is:

  • Urgent conditions require notification to the department by telephone on 1300 651 160 (24/7) when the test result indicates the person has, or may have, the notifiable condition as soon as practicable and within 24 hours.
  • Routine conditions require written notification to the department when the test result indicates the person has, or may have, the notifiable condition within five days. Fax a copy of the lab report to 1300 651 170 or send by other authorised method.

The full list of notifiable conditions and their timings are available from our Notify a condition now page

When and how to notify food or water results

Section 130 prescribes the notification of micro-organisms by laboratory services and proprietors of food premises and food vending machines.
The Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (the regulations) set timing and details for notifying. Laboratories situated within Victoria must notify when a notifiable micro-organism is:

  • isolated or detected by that laboratory from or within food or from or within samples taken from food, regardless of where the sample was taken; or
  • isolated or detected on behalf of that laboratory by another laboratory situated outside Victoria from or within food or from or within samples taken from food, regardless of where the sample was taken.

Isolations/detections in food:

  • urgent notification by telephone to the department's Food Safety Unit on 1300 364 352 when a notifiable micro-organism is isolated or detected as soon as practicable and within 24 hours.
  • written notification must follow within 1 day via email to the Food Safety Unit.

Isolations/detections in water:

  • urgent notification by telephone to the department’s Water Unit on 1300 761 874 when a notifiable micro-organism is isolated or detected as soon as practicable and within 24 hours.
  • written notification must follow within 1 day via email to the Water Unit.

The full list of notifiable micro-organisms and their timings are available from our Notify a condition now page.

When and how to notify testing information on schedule 4A notifiable conditions

As of 1 January 2023, the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 require that pathology services notify the department of notification details for all tests performed during a weekly period in relation to chlamydia trachomatis infection, influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in writing within 5 business days of the end of that period.

As of 1 June 2023, COVID-19 was also added to this list and pathology services are also required to notify the department of all COVID-19 tests performed during a weekly period in writing within 5 business days of the end of that period.

Notification requirements of information pathology and laboratory services

Isolations/detections in patients

The information pathology services are required to notify under regulation 94 is listed in schedule 4 of the regulations. The information notified to the department must include:

Case information
  • family name (for †, first 2 letters only)
  • given name(s) (for †, first 2 letters only)
  • Medicare number or other healthcare identifier (for †, not required)
  • date of birth
  • sex
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status
  • residential address (for †, postcode only).

† Applies to Chlamydia trachomatis infection, Donovanosis (Klebsiella granulomatis infection), Gonococcal infection, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, and Syphilis. Full details must be provided for all other conditions.

Clinical information
  • notifiable condition.

If the notifiable condition is blood lead greater than 5μg/dL, whether or not the test was requested as part of routine biological monitoring as prescribed by regulation 196, 197 or 198 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017)

  • specimen details
  • clinical notes.
Testing information
  • test details (including details of any nucleic acid test performed)
  • result details (including results of any nucleic acid test performed)
  • results of all antimicrobial susceptibility testing (including minimum inhibitory concentration values)
  • requesting medical practitioner information
  • family name
  • given names(s)
  • health service/clinic/practice name
  • health service/clinic/practice address.
Contact details
  • Medicare provider number or AHPRA registration number
  • request date
  • pathology service information
  • name of person authorising results
  • pathology service name
  • pathology service address
  • contact telephone number
  • NATA accreditation number
  • report date.

Isolations/detections in food or water

When notifying micro-organisms in food or water under regulation 96, the information notified to the department (immediately by telephone and within 1 day in writing) must include:

  • micro-organism isolated or detected
  • date of isolation or detection
  • sample reference number (if appropriate)
  • test reference number (if appropriate)
  • source (food or water)
  • if the source is food the:
    • type of food product
    • brand of the food product
    • name, postal address and telephone number of the food manufacturer
    • batch number of the food product (if appropriate)
    • use by or best before date of the food product (if known)
  • if the source is water:
    • information regarding where the sample was collected from
    • the type of water source
  • date the sample was submitted to the notifying laboratory service for testing
  • name, postal and email address and telephone number of notifying laboratory service
  • name, postal and email address and telephone number of person or company that submitted sample for testing.

Isolations/detections in food or water after sub-typing

When notifying micro-organisms in food or water after sub-typing under regulation 98, the information notified to the department must include:

  • micro-organism isolated or detected (including sub-type)
  • date of isolation or detection
  • public Health Laboratory specimen reference number (if appropriate)
  • public Health Laboratory test reference number (if appropriate)
  • source (food or water)
    • if the source is food:
      • the type of food product
      • the brand of the food product
      • the name, postal address and telephone number of the food manufacturer
      • the batch number of the food product (if appropriate)
      • the use by or best before date of the food product (if known)
    • if the source is water:
      • information regarding where the sample was collected from
      • the type of water source
  • date the isolate or sample was submitted to the Public Health Laboratory for sub-typing
  • name, postal and email address and telephone number of the person or company that forwarded the isolate or sample for sub-typing
  • name, postal and email address and telephone number of the notifying laboratory service that forwarded the isolate or sample for sub-typing
  • name, postal and email address and telephone number of the Public Health Laboratory that performed the sub-typing

Testing information on schedule 4A notifiable conditions

The information pathology services are required to notify under regulation 94 is listed in schedule 4A of the regulations (applies to all tests performed in relation to chlamydia trachomatis infection, COVID-19 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)), influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)).

The information notified to the department must include:

Case information:
  • age
  • sex
  • residential postcode
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status
Clinical information:
  • notifiable condition
Testing information:
  • test type
  • test result
  • specimen type
  • specimen collection date
Contact details
  • name of person authorising results
  • pathology service name
  • pathology service address
  • contact telephone number
  • NATA accreditation number
  • report date

Privacy legislation

Commonwealth and State privacy legislation does not negate the requirement to notify the specified conditions or micro-organisms, or to provide the information requested by the department.

Urgent and emerging public health concerns

Section 55 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 provides the general authority for laboratories to provide the department with any information that relates to an urgent or serious potential public health risk.

Within this authority, laboratories can highlight cases with an importance to public health.

Examples may include test requests for exotic or rare diseases, a cluster of severe unexplained illness, or illness from suspected exposure to a serious hazard.

The authority may also be used for emerging conditions (identified by the Chief Health Officer or nationally) and increases the sensitivity of the Victorian surveillance system in an era of increasing emerging infections.

Investigations and enhanced surveillance

The department is authorised to capture additional information to assist investigations, prevent further cases and to inform prevention strategies (including those conditions not or no longer notifiable by medical practitioners).

This additional information is often referred to as investigation data or enhanced surveillance data. These data are mandatory and must be provided by medical practitioners and laboratories when requested.

Information for proprietors of food premises or food vending machines

Section 130 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (the Act) sets out the requirements for notification of micro-organisms by proprietors of food premises and food vending machines in Victoria. The Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (the regulations) set timing and details for notifying.

When to notify food or water results

Proprietors of food premises or food vending machines in Victoria must notify the department when they are informed at any time by the person in charge of a laboratory service whether situated inside or outside Victoria that:

  • a sample of food handled by that proprietor has been tested by that laboratory; and
  • the test conducted by the laboratory has isolated or detected a notifiable micro-organism in the food sample.

Isolations/detections in food:

  • Urgent notification by telephone to the department's Food Safety Unit on 1300 364 352 when a notifiable micro-organism is isolated or detected as soon as practicable and within 24 hours.
  • Written notification must follow within 1 day via email to the Food Safety Unit.

Isolations/detections in water:

  • Urgent notification by telephone to the department’s Water Unit on 1300 761 874 when a notifiable micro-organism is isolated or detected as soon as practicable and within 24 hours.
  • Written notification must follow within 1 day via email to the Water Unit.

The full list of notifiable conditions and their timings are available from our Notify a condition now page.

Information you need to notify

When notifying micro-organisms detected or isolated in food or water under regulation 96, the information notified to the department must include:

  • micro-organism isolated or detected
  • date of isolation or detection
  • sample reference number (if appropriate)
  • test reference number (if appropriate)
  • source (food or water)
  • if the source is food, the:
    • type of food product
    • brand of the food product
    • name, postal address and telephone number of the food manufacturer
    • batch number of the food product (if appropriate)
    • use by or best before date of the food product (if known)
  • if the source is water:
    • information regarding where the sample was collected from
    • the type of water source
  • date the sample was submitted to the notifying laboratory service for testing
  • name, postal and email address and telephone number of notifying laboratory service
  • name, postal and email address and telephone number of person or company that submitted sample for testing.

Privacy legislation

Commonwealth and State privacy legislation does not negate the requirement to notify the specified micro-organisms or to provide the information requested by the department.

Surveillance reporting

The department publishes state-wide and localised data on a daily basis. These reports are available from the Interactive infectious disease reports page.

Chief Health Officer alerts and advisories

Health alerts and advisories issued by the Chief Health Officer. Subscription to health alerts and advisories is also available from the web page.

Health alerts: A health alert advises the Victorian community of an issue that is urgent, poses an immediate threat to public health and requires an immediate response.

Health advisories: Advice on existing threats to the health and wellbeing of Victorians.

Reviewed 31 May 2023

Health.vic

Contact details

Do not email patient notifications.

Communicable Disease Section Department of Health GPO Box 4057, Melbourne, VIC 3000

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