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General practitioner management of notifiable diseases is central to communicable disease control

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To the Editor: Public health units routinely carry out investigations into cases of notifiable diseases, specified by state and territory Public Health Acts, because of the potential impact on the health of the public. Investigations involve contacting individuals and their contacts, and providing advice for follow up and treatment. This may include seeing a general practitioner for further testing, treatment, or prophylaxis of contacts.1 To assess the extent of input from GPs in managing notifiable diseases we documented GP encounters related to public health unit communicable disease control activity in inner-western and south-western Sydney.

Data on routine communicable disease activity in Sydney and Sydney South West Local Health Districts were collected over 2 months from 1 June to 31 July 2014. For all investigations into suspected and confirmed cases of notifiable disease, data were collected on the type of condition, visits to GPs and tests specifically requested as part of routine public health follow-up. The study was approved by Sydney Local Health District Ethics Review Committee. There were 220 investigations associated with suspected or confirmed cases of 34 notifiable conditions during the study period, requiring 212 GP visits and 286 tests. The Box lists conditions according to their required level of GP input (those involving GP encounters…