Outbreak of paralytic poliomyelitis in Finland: widespread circulation of antigenically altered poliovirus type 3 in a vaccinated population

Lancet. 1986 Jun 21;1(8495):1427-32. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(86)91566-7.


An outbreak of 9 cases of paralytic poliomyelitis and 1 non-paralytic case occurred in Finland between August, 1984, and January, 1985, after two decades of freedom from the disease attributable to a successful immunisation programme. During the outbreak poliovirus type 3 was isolated from the patients, from about 15% of healthy persons tested, and from sewage water. At least 100 000 persons were estimated to have been infected. With 1.5 million extra doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine to children under 18 years of age and an oral poliovirus vaccine campaign covering about 95% of the entire population in February-March, 1985, the outbreak was halted in February, 1985. Impaired herd immunity to the epidemic strain of poliovirus type 3, which differed from the type 3 vaccine strains in both immunological and molecular properties, was important in the emergence of this outbreak. The inactivated poliovaccine that had been used in the vaccination programme was relatively weakly immunogenic, especially as regards the type 3 component. Whether continuous antigenic variation of poliovirus type 3 has wider epidemiological implications is not known.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningitis / epidemiology
  • Meningitis / microbiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Poliomyelitis / epidemiology*
  • Poliomyelitis / microbiology
  • Poliomyelitis / transmission
  • Poliovirus / immunology
  • Poliovirus / isolation & purification*
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral / adverse effects
  • Population Surveillance
  • Risk
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Attenuated


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral
  • Vaccines, Attenuated