Polio: Environmental monitoring will be key as world reaches global eradication

October 15, 2018, University of Michigan
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Robust environmental monitoring should be used as the world approaches global eradication of polio, say University of Michigan researchers who recently studied the epidemiology of the 2013 silent polio outbreak in Rahat, Israel.

Israel's strong environmental surveillance program detected the epidemic and allowed for rapid mobilization of a vaccine before any cases of occurred.

Nevertheless, the researchers found that a substantial proportion of children under 10 were likely infected over the course of the outbreak. Because these infections did not result in paralysis, this type of outbreak is termed 'silent'—silent transmission is of concern because it can lead to paralytic cases if left undetected and uncontrolled.

Even as we are at the brink of , silent transmission of wild-type and vaccine-derived polioviruses are expected to continue sporadically, the researchers say.

"Environmental surveillance is particularly useful for detecting silent circulation of the disease," said first author Andrew Brouwer, a research investigator in epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health. "Because paralytic polio only occurs in a small fraction of infections, and that fraction is shrinking as vaccination improves, standard surveillance of paralytic cases will not be sensitive enough to trigger the fast and robust responses needed."

To look into the case, Brouwer and colleagues developed an analytical method to estimate the epidemic trajectories from sewage data.

"Beyond , environmental surveillance of pathogens coupled with our method to estimate epidemic curves is a powerful tool to improve our control of infectious diseases," Brouwer said.

In addition to Brouwer, authors included Joseph Eisenberg, Marisa Eisenberg, Connor Pomeroy and James Koopman of the U-M School of Public Health; Musa Hindiyeh and Yossi Manor of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center; Lester Shulman of Tel Aviv University, Israel Ministry of Health and Chaim Sheba Medical Center; and Itamar Grotto of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Israel Ministry of Health.

Their analysis will be published in the October issue of PNAS.

Explore further: Polio still a threat to public health

More information: Andrew F. Brouwer el al., "Epidemiology of the silent polio outbreak in Rahat, Israel based on modeling of environmental surveillance data," PNAS (2018). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1808798115

Related Stories

Polio still a threat to public health

November 7, 2011
Health professionals and researchers across the globe believe they are on the verge of eradicating polio, a devastating virus which can lead to paralysis and death. Despite successful eradication in most countries, there ...

Polio is not going away without a fight – it's vital we step up our defences

August 30, 2018
The global initiative to eradicate polio has been extraordinarily successful.

How to wipe out polio and prevent its reemergence

June 19, 2015
Public health officials stand poised to eliminate polio from the planet. But a new study shows that the job won't be over when the last case of the horrible paralytic disease is recorded.

Polio returns to Papua New Guinea after 18 years: WHO

June 26, 2018
An outbreak of polio has been confirmed in Papua New Guinea, the World Health Organization and the government said, with the virus detected in a child 18 years after the Pacific nation was declared free of the disease.

Israel launches nationwide polio booster campaign

August 18, 2013
Israel is launching a nationwide campaign to give a polio booster to all children under 9 after a rare discovery of the virus.

Mass media exposure increases demand for vaccinations

March 1, 2018
Mass media exposure can motivate people to get vaccinated, especially during disease outbreaks, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center.

Recommended for you

Study identifies how hantaviruses infect lung cells

November 21, 2018
Hantaviruses cause severe and sometimes fatal respiratory infections, but how they infect lung cells has been a mystery. In today's issue of Nature, an international team including researchers at Albert Einstein College of ...

Scientists shed new light on infection process of the gastrointestinal pathogen C. difficile

November 21, 2018
Scientists from the VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research identified the mechanisms by which the bacterial pathogen Clostridium difficile kills intestinal epithelial cells (IECs), thus destroying the protective mucosal ...

As antibiotic resistance grows, researchers find new targets for fighting deadly staph infections

November 21, 2018
A new look at the inner-workings of bacterial cells could help researchers overcome deadly antibiotic resistance and save the lives of tens-of-thousands of people every year.

Can liver disease be linked to heart failure? Study highlights liver-heart interaction

November 21, 2018
Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have collaborated on a clinical trial that identifies indicators for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease—a typically asymptomatic disease caused by fat buildup in the liver and ...

Researchers find infectious prions throughout eyes of patients with deadly sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

November 20, 2018
By the time symptoms of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) are typically discovered, death is looming and inevitable. But, in a new study, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine with colleagues ...

Researchers a step closer to understanding how deadly bird flu virus takes hold in humans

November 19, 2018
New research has taken a step towards understanding how highly pathogenic influenza viruses such as deadly bird flu infect humans.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.