Thanks to relatively good vaccination coverage, the incidence of a number of vaccine-preventable diseases is extremely rare. As a result of the vaccination of wild animals, Estonia is rabies-free and the risk of humans contracting rabies from an animal bite is extremely low. At the same time, the number of cases of infectious diseases spread by ticks (tick-borne encephalitis and borreliosis) is alarmingly high. The prevalence of HIV infection is also an issue.
In Estonia, infectious diseases are monitored by the National Health Board.
HIV and AIDS
From 2001, Estonia has been the leader in new cases of HIV in Europe. The gravity of the situation in our country is illustrated by the fact that the annual number of new cases of HIV per 100,000 residents is four times higher than the EU average (20.5 vs 5.9 new cases). These figures are from 2015; the statistics for 2016 have not been published yet.
Estonia began the fight against HIV and AIDS in early 1990s. Starting from 2012, activities related to fighting HIV are described in the National Health Development Plan 2009–2020.
National statistics about newly diagnosed cases of HIV are collected by the National Health Board.
One of the success stories of the last decade is putting a stop on the spread of tuberculosis thanks to systematic disease control activities. However, in spite of the general reduction in the prevalence of tuberculosis, the relative incidence of drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis and HIV-positive people with tuberculosis is still high compared to other EU member states.
Vaccination helps prevent infectious diseases. Estonian children are vaccinated against eleven infectious diseases on the basis of the immunization programme. Thanks to vaccination, a number of severe infectious diseases are not found in Estonia. In general, the coverage of children by vaccinations made under the immunization programme has been good, but has steadily declined over the past ten years. The decline in coverage has been caused by the refusal of parents to vaccinate their children either due to lack of knowledge or myths. This, however, may create the potential for the re-emergence and spread and outbreaks of forgotten infectious diseases.