Poliovirus Infection in Guatemala


The objective of the present study was to determine the frequency of poliovirus infection in Guatemala, primarily the inapparent infections occurring there. Sero-immunity, as indicated by serum neutralization tests in HeLa cell cultures, was demonstrated to all three poliovirus types. Among a group of 100 adults, 76 individuals had antibodies to Type I, 58 to Type II, and 62 to Type III; none of the group was known to have had overt or clinical poliomyelitis. It is concluded that polioviruses prevail in the Guatemalan population to a much greater extent than the occurrence of clinical disease would indicate. It has also been pointed out that 35% of the individuals tested failed to show seroimmunity to poliomyelitis.

Poliomyelitis must be taken into account by the physician in Guatemala in the differential diagnosis of any atypical fever, especially in non-residents. Vaccination with polyvalent poliomyelitis vaccine is highly desirable for foreigners entering tropical and subtropical areas and the probability that vaccination will become increasingly desirable for residents of Guatemala is suggested. The risk of paralytic poliomyelitis is greater than commonly realized.

Author Notes

Department of Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles.

Division of Virology, School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles.

Pan American Health Organization, and Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama.