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PAEDS network vital to informing policy on serious childhood diseases, latest report shows

The Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) network is continuing to make vital contributions to unique policy-relevant data on serious paediatric conditions in Australia. This is highlighted in the latest PAEDS report for 2017–2018 published in the Communicable Diseases Intelligence journal.

During the report period, PAEDS made a significant contribution to acute flaccid paralysis surveillance, helping Australia meet the World Health Organization (WHO) case reporting targets for polio. This is critical to Australia maintaining its polio-free status. 

The PAEDS system was also successful in identifying a third human parechovirus outbreak linked to acute childhood encephalitis in 2017, a newly emerged virus not effectively captured by other surveillance platforms. The previous two outbreaks were in 2013–2014 and 2015–2016. Encephalitis is a complex neurological syndrome caused by inflammation of the brain and severely affects children. 

PAEDS also continued to support annual evaluation of influenza control by demonstrating there was variable influenza activity between 2017 and 2018, with vaccine effectiveness analysis showing protection offered through vaccination is season-dependent. Results from the PAEDS-FluCAN collaboration for influenza surveillance in 2017 contributed to all Australian states and territories providing free influenza vaccine for children under 5 years from 2018. 

Using hospital-based sentinel surveillance, PAEDS monitored eight paediatric conditions during 2017–2018 at its sites across Australia: acute flaccid paralysis, acute childhood encephalitis, intussusception, pertussis, influenza, varicella-zoster virus infection, invasive meningococcal disease and invasive group A streptococcus, while further investigating parental attitudes to influenza and pertussis vaccination. The surveillance system collects timely and comprehensive data, supporting rapid public health responses if needed. 

PAEDS is now also undertaking surveillance of COVID-19, Kawasaki disease and gram-negative blood stream infections.

Read the full report here

Read about PAEDS work here.