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The goal of polio eradication in the Western Pacific Region is within reach. The last case of polio seen in the region occurred in Cambodia in March 1997 and the region aims to be certified polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the year 2000. The Global Commission for Certification of Eradication of Poliomyelitis has specified three criteria to be fulfilled by countries in order that they may be certified polio-free:
- absence of wild poliovirus for 3 years in the presence of adequate Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance in children under the age of 15 years;
- a National Certification Committee in each country to validate and submit the certification documentation; and
- the establishment of mechanisms to detect and respond to the importation of wild poliovirus.
The next major objective will be the containment of poliovirus. Materials that may be infected or potentially infected with wild poliovirus in laboratories and research institutions, will need to be rendered non-infectious or destroyed. Achievement of polio eradication will make polio the second infectious disease after smallpox, to be eradicated.
The current issue of CDI includes an article by Kennett et al regarding the last case of polio reported in Australia in 1986 and its reclassification as 'vaccine associated'.1 In the 'Current Issues on Immunisation,' Burgess and McIntyre discuss issues related to vaccine associated paralytic poliomyelitis in Australia.2 A forthcoming issue of CDI will include both a report on the Surveillance of Acute Flaccid Paralysis scheme over the past four years by D'Souza et al and a report from the Australian National Polio Reference Laboratory, which was established at the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in 1994.
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Author affiliations1. National Centre for Disease Control, PO Box 9848, Canberra, ACT 2601
2. National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University
3. Australian Paediatrics Surveillance Unit
4. Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney
References1. Kennett ML, Brussen KA, Wood DJ et al. Australia's last reported case of wild poliovirus infection. Commun Dis Intell 1999;23:77-79.
2. Burgess MA, McIntyre PB. Vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis. Commun Dis Intell 1999;23:80-81.
This article was published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 23, No 3, 18 March 1999.