A population-based seroprevalence study in South Africa as a tool in the polio eradication initiative.

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  • 1 National Institute for Virology and Department of Virology, University of the Witwatersrand, Sandringham, South Africa.

A seroprevalence study for poliomyelitis was carried out on a sample of sera from a serum bank used for a vitamin A study. Vaccination coverage was satisfactory (80% or more) in five of nine provinces, although a prevalence of antibody to polio of 80% or more was found in all provinces. Serologic immunity (i.e., the prevalence of neutralizing antibodies) exceeded vaccination coverage, suggesting secondary spread of vaccine virus. However, whether or not water was supplied through a piped system was not associated with secondary spread of vaccine virus to nonvaccinated children. Seroprevalence studies are a valuable adjunct to acute flaccid paralysis surveillance, which is the standard surveillance instrument for the poliomyelitis eradication initiative. The use of available and suitable serum banks for seroprevalence investigations is a relatively cheap monitoring option that can yield very valuable information for the eradication initiative.