Overview of ARF diagnoses

In 2014–2018, there were 2,076 acute rheumatic fever (ARF) diagnoses recorded in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory combined (incidence rate 4.4 per 100,000 population over the 5 years combined). The number and rate of ARF diagnoses increased from 321 (3.5 per 100,000) in 2014 to 481 (5.1 per 100,000) in 2017, before stabilising. In 2018, there were 478 Australians diagnosed with ARF (5.0 per 100,000).

Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2014–2018, there were 1,963 ARF diagnoses. The ARF diagnosis rate among Indigenous Australians also increased between 2014 and 2017—from 71.0 to 100.4 per 100,000 population (300 to 457 diagnoses, respectively)—but then remained stable at 100.1 per 100,000 (457 diagnoses) in 2018.

ARF diagnoses among all Australians, 2014 to 2018. A combined vertical bar chart and line graph, the bars show the number of ARF diagnoses and the line shows the rate of ARF diagnoses. The data are presented by year (2014 to 2018) or by age group, and for all Australians and Indigenous Australians, with the option to filter by state and territory and sex. The number and rate of ARF diagnoses generally increased from 2014 up until 2017, before stabilising.

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Age and sex

Of the 2,076 ARF diagnoses among all Australians:

  • the most common age at diagnosis was 5–14 years, with 1,022 diagnoses (17 per 100,000 population).
  • the age-specific diagnosis rate was highest in 2016 among those aged 5–14, with 229 diagnoses (19 per 100,000).
  • females accounted for more than half (1,129) of all diagnoses.

Of the 1,963 ARF diagnoses among Indigenous Australians:

  • the highest rate of diagnosis was among those aged 5–14, accounting for half of all diagnoses (195 per 100,000 population, or 964 diagnoses).
  • females accounted for 55% of diagnoses (1,085 diagnoses).
  • 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.

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.