Environmental Surveillance System Characteristics and Impacts on Confidence About No Undetected Serotype 1 Wild Poliovirus Circulation

Risk Anal. 2019 Feb;39(2):414-425. doi: 10.1111/risa.13193. Epub 2018 Sep 21.


Surveillance for poliovirus during the polio endgame remains uncertain. Building on prior modeling of the potential for undetected poliovirus transmission for conditions like those in Pakistan and Afghanistan, we use a hypothetical model to explore several key characteristics of the poliovirus environmental surveillance (ES) system (e.g., number and quality of sites, catchment sizes, and sampling frequency) and characterize their impacts on the time required to reach high (i.e., 95%) confidence about no circulation (CNC95%) following the last detected case of serotype 1 wild poliovirus. The nature and quality of the existing and future acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance and ES system significantly impact the estimated CNC95% for places like Pakistan and Afghanistan. The analysis illustrates the tradeoffs between number of sites, sampling frequency, and catchments sizes, and suggests diminishing returns of increasing these three factors beyond a point that depends on site quality and the location of sites. Limitations in data quality and the hypothetical nature of the model reduce the ability to assess the extent to which actual ES systems offer benefits that exceed their costs. Thus, although poliovirus ES may help to reduce the time required to reach high confidence about the absence of undetected circulation, the effect strongly depends on the ability to establish effective ES sites in high-risk areas. The costs and benefits of ES require further analysis.

Keywords: Disease eradication; disease surveillance; environmental surveillance; infection transmission modeling; poliomyelitis; poliovirus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afghanistan / epidemiology
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disease Eradication / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control*
  • Poliovirus / genetics*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Probability
  • Risk Assessment
  • Serogroup
  • Sewage
  • Stochastic Processes


  • Sewage