A new research has revealed how to wipe out polio and prevent its reemergence.
The University of Michigan study shows that the job won’t be over when the last case of the horrible paralytic disease is recorded.
Researchers Micaela Martinez-Bakker and Aaron A. King and Pejman Rohani use disease-transmission models to show that silent transmission of poliovirus could continue for more than three years with no reported cases.
To ensure that the disease is truly eradicated, aggressive surveillance programs and vaccination campaigns must continue in endemic countries for years after the last reported case, they conclude.
Martinez-Bakker said that using transmission models, they demonstrate that one can have sustained chains of silent transmission in populations for more than three years, without a single person ever showing up as a reported polio case.
She added that once people think they’ve eradicated polio, they probably should intensify the environmental surveillance to make sure the virus is not just lurking under the hood at very low levels. Polio eradication is about eradicating the virus. It’s not about eradicating the disease paralytic polio.
Reaching eradication and preventing reemergence of polio requires intimate knowledge of how the virus persists, Martinez-Bakker noted, adding historical epidemics that predate the use of vaccines can be used to disentangle the epidemiology of disease from vaccine effects. They allow them to establish a baseline by studying the system in the absence of intervention.
The study is published in the Open Access journal PLOS Biology.