Surveillance to Track Progress Toward Polio Eradication - Worldwide, 2018-2019

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 May 22;69(20):623-629. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6920a3.


Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988, the number of polio cases worldwide has declined approximately 99.99%; only two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) have never interrupted wild poliovirus (WPV) transmission (1). The primary means of detecting poliovirus circulation is through surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) among children aged <15 years with testing of stool specimens for WPV and vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPVs) (genetically reverted strains of the vaccine virus that regain neurovirulence) in World Health Organization (WHO)-accredited laboratories (2,3). In many locations, AFP surveillance is supplemented by environmental surveillance, the regular collection and testing of sewage to provide awareness of the extent and duration of poliovirus circulation (3). This report presents 2018-2019 poliovirus surveillance data, focusing on 40 priority countries* with WPV or VDPV outbreaks or at high risk for importation because of their proximity to a country with an outbreak. The number of priority countries rose from 31 in 2018 to 40 in 2019 because of a substantial increase in the number of VDPV outbreaks (2,4). In areas with low poliovirus immunity, VDPVs can circulate in the community and cause outbreaks of paralysis; these are known as circulating vaccine derived polioviruses (cVDPVs) (4). In 2019, only 25 (63%) of the 40 designated priority countries met AFP surveillance indicators nationally; subnational surveillance performance varied widely and indicated focal weaknesses. High quality, sensitive surveillance is important to ensure timely detection and response to cVDPV and WPV transmission.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Eradication*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Global Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Laboratories
  • Paralysis / epidemiology
  • Poliomyelitis / epidemiology
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control*
  • Poliovirus / isolation & purification
  • Population Surveillance*