Spike of hepatitis A over past two weeks in Latvia

In the last two weeks, nine cases of hepatitis A have been registered in Latvia, which is significantly higher than usual over such a short time, the Disease Prevention and Control Center (SPKC) said in a statement on February 5.

All cases of hepatitis A have been linked to trips to other countries, including six people who contracted hepatitis A after visiting Belarus, others had traveled to Morocco, Egypt and Zanzibar.

SPKC epidemiologists thoroughly investigate each case of hepatitis A and organize the necessary anti-epidemic measures to reduce the risk of infection spreading.

Hepatitis A is currently a rare infectious disease in Latvia.

On average, the country recorded 22 cases a year in the last five years.

Most often, people became infected on foreign trips. As hygiene conditions improved, the circulation of hepatitis A virus in Latvia was practically interrupted, however, for this reason, a significant proportion of the population (mainly children, young people and middle-aged people) do not have immunity to hepatitis A.

Taking into account that 6 cases of hepatitis A related to travel to Belarus have been registered in Latvia in a short period of time, it is likely that the epidemiological situation regarding the spread of hepatitis A virus has significantly deteriorated in this neighboring country.

The SPKC therefore recommends that people who have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A and have not had this infection refrain from travelling to Belarus. If it is not possible to cancel the trip, the SPKC recommends vaccination against hepatitis A in good time, but care should be taken during the journey, including washing or disinfecting hands, avoiding uncooked foods or products packaged by hand for human consumption, including catering establishments, tap water drinking, swimming pools.

The SPKC recommends that health be monitored within 50 days on return from Belarus, the maximum incubation period for infection, to spot symptoms of the potential disease promptly,

The SPKC calls on food business administrations to strictly control compliance with hand hygiene in their businesses.

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