[Hepatitis A in Estonia (1990-1999)].
ABSTRACT During recent 10 years (1990-1999) essential changes occurred the epidemiology of viral hepatitis A (VHA) in Estonia: simultaneously with a decreased level of morbidity (morbidity rate per 100,000 of the population was 78.4 in 1990 and 7.7 in 1996, or 1,241 and 112 cases, respectively), a shift in the age structure of patients from children of preschool age to older age groups took place. Everyday contacts were the main established route of VHA transmission in recent years, but in more than 80% of cases the risk factors of the virus transmission remained obscure. During the regional outbreak of VHA in North Estonia in 1998 (937 out of 989 cases registered in the country) a rise in morbidity was observed among young people aged 15-29 years, when a wide spread of parenteral viral hepatitides B and C and drug addiction were registered in this region. During this outbreak VHA was transmitted mainly through everyday contacts. Still the considerable prevalence of injection drug users who practiced the group use of syringes and needles and took drugs from common containers, a sufficiently high level of the mixed forms of the disease (more than 18% of all registered cases of VHA), detected for the first time, make it possible to suggest that the parenteral transmission route could appear among persons belonging to the above mentioned group. Vaccination is regarded as the most effective measure for the prophylaxis of VHA.