Zoonotic diseases

Red flags

Consider urgent referral for patients with the following:

  • High fever
  • Altered conscious level
  • Protracted illness with weight loss not responding to medication
  • Suspected brucellosis

Zoonoses reportable in Australia are:

  • Anthrax (cutaneous and pulmonary form)
  • Bat lyssavirus infection
  • Brucellosis
  • Cat bite fever (Pasturella multocida)
  • Cat scratch disease (Bartonella henseiae)
  • Leptospirosis
  • Orf
  • Ornithosis (psittacosis)
  • Q fever (Coxiella burnetii)
  • Yersiniosis

Other important information for referring practitioners

Lifestyle changes

  • Prevention by personal health and hygiene, hand washing
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Vaccinate if available to at risk professions
  • Reduce exposure

Medical management

The diagnosis can usually be made from a careful history detailing exposure to zoonotic vectors combined with the symptoms and signs. This should allow for a short list of suspicious diseases that can be investigated specifically.

These guidelines cannot outline treatment for all zoonoses therefore see Useful links for further information regarding diagnosis and management.

Referral requirements

A referral may be rejected without the following information.

  • Reason for referral
  • Suspected diagnosis
  • Presence of any red flags
  • Timeline of symptoms – include main symptoms and any relevant rash description
  • Exposure risk factors (occupational exposure, pets, animal husbandry, foreign travel, sewerage worker, feral pig hunting)
  • Make a note of any contact with sick animals or birds
  • List treatment trialled
  • Relevant immunisation history (Q fever)
  • Investigations (dictated by possible diagnoses)

Out of catchment

Metro North Health is responsible for providing public health services to the people who reside within its boundaries. Special consideration is made for patients requiring tertiary care or services that are not provided by their local Hospital and Health Service. If your patient lives outside the Metro North Health area and you wish to refer them to one of our services, inclusion of information regarding their particular medical and social factors will assist with the triaging of your referral.

  • Impact on employment
  • Impact on education
  • Impact on home
  • Impact on activities of daily living
  • Impact on ability to care for others
  • Impact on personal frailty or safety
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can’t order, or the patient can’t afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary
  • Presenting symptoms (evolution and duration)
  • Physical findings
  • Details of previous treatment (including systemic and topical medications prescribed) including the course and outcome of the treatment
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Details of any associated medical conditions which may affect the condition or its treatment (e.g. diabetes), noting these must be stable and controlled prior to referral
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Drug allergies
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use
  • Full name (including aliases)
  • Date of birth
  • Residential and postal address
  • Telephone contact number/s – home, mobile and alternative
  • Medicare number (where eligible)
  • Name of the parent or caregiver (if appropriate)
  • Preferred language and interpreter requirements
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Contact details – telephone, fax, email
  • Provider number
  • Date of referral
  • Signature
  • Willingness to have surgery (where surgery is a likely intervention)
  • Choice to be treated as a public or private patient
  • Compensable status (e.g. DVA, Work Cover, Motor Vehicle Insurance, etc.)