Over 500 acute rheumatic fever diagnoses were reported in 2022

In 2022, 533 diagnoses of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) were recorded in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory combined. These diagnoses occurred in 525 Australians (Supplementary Table 2.1

  • 505 (95%) of the diagnoses for 497 people who were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (First Nations) people, a rate of 64 per 100,000 population  (Supplementary Table 2.3a).
  • Rates of ARF among all Australians increased slightly from 2.1 per 100,000 in 2013 to 3.5 in 2021. There was a decrease in cases in 2022, to 2.9 per 100,000 (Figure 2.1; Supplementary Table 2.2). 
  • From 2013 to 2022, rates of ARF among First Nations people generally increased from 47 per 100,000 in 2013 to 77 in 2021. There was a decrease in 2022 to 64 per 100,000 (Figure 2.1; Supplementary Table 2.2).

Figure 2.1: Rate of ARF diagnoses, by Indigenous status and year of diagnosis, 2013 to 2022

A line graph showing the increase of ARF until a decline in 2022

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of National Rheumatic Heart Disease Data Collection.

Several factors might affect the number of cases reported in the register in each jurisdiction. Clinician awareness and reporting to the registers has likely increased in the years since the registers started and may also have been affected by the addition of ARF and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) to the list of notifiable diseases at different times in the jurisdictions. Under-diagnosis and under-reporting to the register also means some individuals are not captured in this analysis. It is difficult to determine whether increases in the number of notifications reflect a real increase in the number of cases occurring, improved detection and diagnosis of cases, increases in the number of people being recorded on the registers, or a combination of these.