Australia declared polio free.

Rennie M. D' Souza*, Margery Kennett, Charles Watson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    For Australia to be declared polio free, evidence of the absence of circulation of wild poliovirus was required by the Regional Commission for the Certification of Eradication of Poliomyelitis in the Western Pacific in August 2000. Data on surveillance of poliomyelitis, acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), vaccine associated paralytic polio and enteroviruses were provided to document the absence of circulation of wild poliovirus. The last wild poliomyelitis virus case in Australia was in 1972. AFP surveillance has improved since it was initiated in 1995 and achieved a rate of 0.94 per 100,000 population in 1999. No wild polioviruses have been isolated from stool samples of AFP cases. Australia has in place a comprehensive network of laboratories for enterovirus surveillance and this provides further evidence for the absence of wild poliovirus infection. The immunisation coverage in the country has been over 80 per cent over the last 3 years. If there were an importation of a case of poliomyelitis into Australia, a national outbreak response would be coordinated through the Communicable Diseases Network Australia. Plans for containment of laboratory stocks of wild poliovirus are being implemented. The evidence provided was sufficient to satisfy the Regional Commission that there was no wild poliovirus circulating in the region and enabled Australia to be declared polio free on October 29, 2000 along with the other 36 countries in the Western Pacific Region. Australia must remain vigilant against importations of wild poliovirus from endemic countries and maintain high immunisation coverage and sensitive surveillance systems.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)253-260
    Number of pages8
    JournalCommunicable diseases intelligence
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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