Environmental poliovirus surveillance (ENV) means monitoring of poliovirus (PV) transmission in human populations by examining environmental specimens supposedly contaminated by human faeces. The rationale is based on the fact that PV-infected individuals, whether presenting with disease symptoms or not, shed large amounts of PV in the faeces for several weeks. As the morbidity:infection ratio of PV infection is very low, this fact contributes to the sensitivity of ENV which under optimal conditions can be better than that of the standard acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance. The World Health Organization has included ENV in the new Strategic Plan of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative for years 2010–2012 to be increasingly used in PV surveillance, supplementing AFP surveillance. In this paper we review the feasibility of using ENV to monitor wild PV and vaccine-derived PV circulation in human populations, based on global experiences in defined epidemiological situations.
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