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Post-transfusion hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection worldwide is considered a sporadic event. An outbreak of HAV infection occurred in Latvia between the end of 2007 and throughout 2008 with more than 2,800 confirmed cases reported over a 13-month period (incidence of 123 per 100,000 population). The majority of reported HAV infection cases were in people over 18 years of age and in people living in the capital city, Riga. We estimated that the crude risk for HAV contamination of whole blood supplies in Riga between February and October 2008 ranged from 1.4 to 10.6per 10,000 donated units. In people under 40 years of age, the risk of receiving an infectious blood transfusion was more than 3.0 per 10,000 recipients between August and October 2008 during the peak of the outbreak. We conclude that there is a previously under-recognised impact of HAV on blood safety during widespread outbreaks of this disease. Estimating the risk of contamination of blood supplies during an infectious disease outbreak scenario is important for fine tuning risk assessments and potentially improving public health practices.


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