Overview of ARF notifications

In 2015–2019, there were 2,244 notifications of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) diagnoses recorded in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory combined (incidence rate 5 per 100,000 population over the 5 years combined). These diagnoses occurred in 2,182 Australians, as a person can be diagnosed more than once and have multiple ARF notifications. The number and rate of ARF notifications increased from 342 (4 per 100,000) in 2015 to 500 (5 per 100,000) in 2018, before stabilising. In 2019, there were 477 ARF notifications (5 per 100,000) (Figure 5).

Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2015–2019, there were 2,128 ARF notifications in 2,067 people. The ARF notification rate among Indigenous Australians also increased between 2015 and 2018—from 77 to 105 per 100,000 population (327 to 474 notifications, respectively)—but then remained fairly stable at 102 per 100,000 (463 notifications) in 2019 (Figure 5).

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Age and sex

Of the 2,244 ARF notifications among all Australians in 2015–2019:

  • the most common age at ARF notification was 5–14 years, with 1,081 notifications (18 per 100,000 population).
  • there were 68 notifications (2 per 100,000) among children aged 0-4 years.
  • females accounted for more than half (55%) of all notifications.
  • in people aged under 15, ARF rates were generally higher among males than females.
  • for adults, ARF rates were generally higher among females than males (Figure 5).

Of the 2,128 ARF notifications among Indigenous Australians in 2015–2019:

  • the highest rate of ARF notification was among those aged 5–14, accounting for 48% of all notifications (208 per 100,000 population, or 1,029 notifications).
  • there were 66 notifications (27 per 100,000) among children aged 0-4 years.
  • females accounted for 56% of notifications (1,186 notifications).
  • in people aged under 15, ARF rates were generally higher among males than females.
  • for adults, ARF rates were generally higher among females than males (Figure 5).

The remaining information on ARF in this report (with the exceptions of deaths and recurrences per 100 patient-years) relates to Indigenous Australians only, due to the small number of cases occurring among non-Indigenous Australians.