Poliovirus and Other Enteroviruses from Environmental Surveillance in Italy, 2009-2015

Food Environ Virol. 2018 Dec;10(4):333-342. doi: 10.1007/s12560-018-9350-8. Epub 2018 Jun 12.


Within the initiatives for poliomyelitis eradication by WHO, Italy activated an environmental surveillance (ES) in 2005. ES complements clinical Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance for possible polio cases, detects poliovirus circulation in environmental sewage, and is used to monitor transmission in communities. In addition to polioviruses, the analyses comprised: (i) the monitoring of the presence of non-polio enteroviruses in sewage samples and (ii) the temporal and geographical distribution of the detected viruses. From 2009 to 2015, 2880 sewage samples were collected from eight cities participating in the surveillance. Overall, 1479 samples resulted positive for enteroviruses. No wild-type polioviruses were found, although four Sabin-like polioviruses were detected. The low degree of mutation found in the genomes of these four isolates suggests that these viruses have had a limited circulation in the population. All non-polio enteroviruses belonged to species B and the most frequent serotype was CV-B5, followed by CV-B4, E-11, E-6, E-7, CV-B3, and CV-B2. Variations in the frequency of different serotypes were also observed in different seasons and/or Italian areas. Environmental surveillance in Italy, as part of the 'WHO global polio eradication program', is a powerful tool to augment the polio surveillance and to investigate the silent circulation or the re-emergence of enteroviruses in the population.

Keywords: Enteroviruses; Environmental surveillance; Italy; Poliovirus; Sewage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Enterovirus / classification
  • Enterovirus / immunology*
  • Enterovirus / isolation & purification
  • Enterovirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Enterovirus Infections / virology*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Limit of Detection
  • Poliomyelitis / epidemiology
  • Poliomyelitis / virology*
  • Poliovirus / classification
  • Poliovirus / immunology*
  • Poliovirus / isolation & purification
  • Sewage / virology*


  • Sewage