Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Polio Virus Pops Up in Unexpected Places

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Polio Virus Pops Up in Unexpected Places

Article excerpt

On three occasions since June last year the polio virus has made impromptu appearances that have given the international health community food for thought.

First, in June it was found in tap water in the eastern French town of Strasbourg. On the strength of preliminary analysis, WHO believes that this virus came from an old vaccine strain that possibly escaped from a laboratory. "This event underlines the need for all laboratories to begin implementing WHO's plan for worldwide containment of laboratory poliovirus," commented Bruce Aylward, who heads WHO's polio eradication team.

Then in July, the virus appeared in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where it had by 22 December caused 8 confirmed cases of polio, with two deaths. The responsible virus was identified as originating from an oral polio vaccine virus that had "reverted" to a virulent form and spread in an incompletely vaccinated community. This is the first outbreak of polio in the Americas since the disease was certified in 1994 as eradicated from the region. "The outbreak is being properly investigated and controlled and should not affect the certification," Dr Alwyard said. …

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