Characterizing poliovirus transmission and evolution: insights from modeling experiences with wild and vaccine-related polioviruses

Risk Anal. 2013 Apr;33(4):703-49. doi: 10.1111/risa.12044. Epub 2013 Mar 22.


With national and global health policymakers facing numerous complex decisions related to achieving and maintaining polio eradication, we expanded our previously developed dynamic poliovirus transmission model using information from an expert literature review process and including additional immunity states and the evolution of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV). The model explicitly considers serotype differences and distinguishes fecal-oral and oropharyngeal transmission. We evaluated the model by simulating diverse historical experiences with polioviruses, including one country that eliminated wild poliovirus using both OPV and inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) (USA), three importation outbreaks of wild poliovirus (Albania, the Netherlands, Tajikistan), one situation in which no circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPVs) emerge despite annual OPV use and cessation (Cuba), three cVDPV outbreaks (Haiti, Madura Island in Indonesia, northern Nigeria), one area of current endemic circulation of all three serotypes (northern Nigeria), and one area with recent endemic circulation and subsequent elimination of multiple serotypes (northern India). We find that when sufficient information about the conditions exists, the model can reproduce the general behavior of poliovirus transmission and outbreaks while maintaining consistency in the generic model inputs. The assumption of spatially homogeneous mixing remains a significant limitation that affects the performance of the differential equation-based model when significant heterogeneities in immunity and mixing may exist. Further studies on OPV virus evolution and improved understanding of the mechanisms of mixing and transmission may help to better characterize poliovirus transmission in populations. Broad application of the model promises to offer insights in the context of global and national policy and economic models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Calibration
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Poliomyelitis / transmission*
  • Poliovirus / genetics
  • Poliovirus / immunology*
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral / immunology*


  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral