Prevalence of asymptomatic poliovirus infection in older children and adults in northern India: analysis of contact and enhanced community surveillance, 2009

J Infect Dis. 2014 Nov 1;210 Suppl 1(0 1):S252-8. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit234.


Background: In 2009, enhanced poliovirus surveillance was established in polio-endemic areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, India, to assess poliovirus infection in older individuals.

Methods: In Uttar Pradesh, stool specimens from asymptomatic household and neighborhood contacts of patients with laboratory-confirmed polio were tested for polioviruses. In Bihar, in community-based surveillance, children and adults from 250 randomly selected households in the Kosi River area provided stool and pharyngeal swab samples that were tested for polioviruses. A descriptive analysis of surveillance data was performed.

Results: In Uttar Pradesh, 89 of 1842 healthy contacts of case patients with polio (4.8%) were shedding wild poliovirus (WPV); 54 of 85 (63.5%) were ≥5 years of age. Shedding was significantly higher in index households than in neighborhood households (P<.05). In Bihar, 11 of 451 healthy persons (2.4%) were shedding WPV in their stool; 6 of 11 (54.5%) were ≥5 years of age. Mean viral titer was similar in older and younger children.

Conclusions: A high proportion of persons≥5 years of age were asymptomatically shedding polioviruses. These findings provide indirect evidence that older individuals could have contributed to community transmission of WPV in India. Polio vaccination campaigns generally target children<5 years of age. Expanding this target age group in polio-endemic areas could accelerate polio eradication.

Keywords: India; community transmission; enhanced surveillance; poliomyelitis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Asymptomatic Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Feces / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharynx / virology
  • Poliomyelitis / epidemiology*
  • Poliomyelitis / transmission
  • Poliomyelitis / virology
  • Poliovirus / isolation & purification*
  • Prevalence
  • Virus Shedding
  • Young Adult