Notifiable diseases

The prevention and control of communicable diseases are essential public health tasks. For this reason, certain infectious diseases are subject to compulsory notification. Notifiable diseases are recorded by means of the Epidemiological Reporting System (EMS) by entry of practising physicians as well as hospitals and laboratories. In this way, notifiable infectious diseases are routinely and systematically recorded.

The data on diseases registered in the EMS provide the basis for the control of measures in the field of disease control and prevention. They allow ongoing observation of regional developments at the actual time margin and the identification of disease clusters; both are central prerequisites for controlling the spread of diseases and informing the public with up-to-date facts and figures.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the importance of the EMS has taken on a new dimension. Whereas before, around 20,000 notifiable diseases were reported annually, their number has increased almost 20-fold in 2020. Of the approximately 375,000 communicable diseases reported, more than 96% were COVID-19 cases (360,580 cases or 4,044 diseases per 100,000 of the population).

The number of other notifiable diseases decreased by more than a quarter from 2019 to 2020. Whereas around 20,700 notifiable diseases were reported to the EMS in 2019, around 14,600 were registered in 2020 (excluding COVID-19 cases). The most pronounced decline was seen in whooping cough, which was still the second most common notifiable infectious disease in 2019 with more than 2,200 cases - in 2020, there were only 632 cases, which corresponds to a decline of almost 72% (and the fifth place in the ranking of the most common notifiable diseases).

Of the notifiable infections aside from COVID-19, bacterial foodborne diseases accounted for the majority (as in previous years): Half of all notifiable incidents recorded in 2020 are attributable to this disease group. Nine out of ten foodborne bacterial infections were caused by campylobacter or salmonella, although these pathogens also caused significantly fewer cases than in the previous year. For example, 5,407 cases of campylobacteriosis were reported in 2020 (60.6 illnesses per 100,000 of the population), 1,166 cases or 17.7% fewer than the year before. The second most common infectious intestinal disease is salmonella infection (9.2 cases per 100,000 of the population); its number decreased from 1,868 to 817 from 2019 to 2020 (-56.3%).

Hepatitis viruses caused a good 19% fewer cases of illness compared to the previous year. Of the 1,896 infections reported in 2020, half were due to hepatitis B viruses (948 cases, -12.5%) and approximately 44% to hepatitis C viruses (839 cases, -23.3%).

Tuberculosis was reported in 388 cases (this is 56% less than ten years ago and 18% less than in 2019), furthermore 25 cases of measles were reported - again showing a decrease of more than 83% compared to the previous year 2019 (2019: 151 diseases).

The increase in the number of illnesses caused by early summer meningoencephalitis viruses in 2020 is remarkable. With 250 TBE cases, the highest value to date was recorded in 2020. Their number increased by almost 136% within one year (2019: 106 reports, 2010: 59 reports).

Further information on notifiable infectious diseases is available from the Department of Infection Epidemiology and Surveillance, Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) and the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (where information on HIV/AIDS can also be found; only in German).

Results (overview): Reported cases of notifiable diseases since 2010
Reported cases of notifiable diseases 2020 by NUTS-2

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