Poliovirus Found in Brazilian Sewage

Brazil detected poliovirus in sewage at Sao Paulo state airport but no human infections reported

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Polio was largely eradicated in many parts of the world, but the virus still appears and still causes infections each year. Now the virus has been detected in samples gathered in Brazil.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that poliovirus was found in sewage at a Brazilian airport in the state of São Paulo.

No human infections have been discovered, but officials are reminding the public to ensure they are vaccinated against polio.

"Talk to your pharmacist about vaccines you may need before traveling."

According to WHO, wild poliovirus type 1 was recently identified in sewage samples from the Viracopos Inernational Airport, located on the outskirts of the Brazilian city of Campinas. The airport is located in the state of São Paulo and is around 100 kilometers to the northwest of the city of São Paulo.

Wild poliovirus type 1 is a strain of poliomyelitis, an infectious disease spread between people that often causes symptoms like fever, vomiting and pain in the limbs. WHO reported that around one in 200 cases of polio lead to irreversible paralysis, and around 5 to 10 percent of these cases result in death.

The samples were collected during routine testing in March 2014. WHO reported that subsequent samples have not discovered further instances of polio, and that no human infections with the virus have been found.

"Genetic sequencing indicated a close match with a strain of WPV1 that was recently isolated from a case of polio in Equatorial Guinea," said WHO, who noted that Equatorial Guinea is currently experiencing an ongoing outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1.

WHO stressed that an investigation is ongoing and that Brazil is not currently considered an area that has ongoing polio transmission.

"Brazil health authorities have enhanced their surveillance activity aimed to detect transmission of WPV1 and potential cases of paralytic polio as well as for any un-immunized persons," said WHO. "The vaccination coverage against polio in São Paulo State and Campinas municipality have been higher than 95 percent in the routine immunization program."

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that people be up-to-date on all routine vaccinations before traveling to any destination. These routine vaccinations include vaccines for polio, measles-mumps-rubella and the seasonal flu vaccine.

In the US, the polio vaccine is routinely given to children in four doses, starting at around 2 months of age and ending with a booster dose between the ages of 4 to 6.

Review Date: 
June 24, 2014
Last Updated:
June 25, 2014