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Scand J Infect Dis. 1997;29(3):213-6.

Hepatitis A outbreak amongst intravenous amphetamine abusers in Finland.

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  • 1Aurora Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.


This article describes a widespread outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection amongst drug abusers in Finland. Although attempts to demonstrate the virus in amphetamines failed, the infection was assumed to be linked to intravenous use of the drug. The unusual mode of transmission prompted us to analyse possible atypical clinical features as well as the spread of the virus to the general population, nowadays practically without protective immunity. Serologically verified cases that occurred in Helsinki were interviewed, their hospital records were analysed and their contacts were serology tested. Amphetamine lots, as well as faecal samples from patients, were examined with RT-PCR. Detailed information was obtained from 238 subjects, among whom 131 admitted drug abuse and 67 cases were classified as secondary cases. Phylogenetic analysis of virus strains from HAV-infected cases suggested a common origin, and epidemiological observations linked it with particular lots of amphetamine. Three cases died, and 3 presented with severe clinical disease. Icterus was more common among i.v. drug abusers than others. Infection with hepatitis A virus was probably related to the faecal contamination of amphetamine associated with the transportation of the drugs in the gastrointestinal tract.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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