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Laboratory Surveillance of Polio and Other Enteroviruses in High-Risk Populations and Environmental Samples.

  • Pogka, Vasiliki1
  • Labropoulou, Stavroula1
  • Emmanouil, Mary1
  • Voulgari-Kokota, Androniki1
  • Vernardaki, Alexandra2
  • Georgakopoulou, Theano2
  • Mentis, Andreas F3
  • 1 National Poliovirus/Enterovirus Reference Laboratory, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, Athens, Greece. , (Greece)
  • 2 Hellenic Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (HCDCP), Athens, Greece. , (Greece)
  • 3 National Poliovirus/Enterovirus Reference Laboratory, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, Athens, Greece [email protected] , (Greece)
Published Article
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2017
DOI: 10.1128/AEM.02872-16
PMID: 28039136


In the context of poliomyelitis eradication, a reinforced supplementary laboratory surveillance of enteroviruses was implemented in Greece. Between 2008 and 2014, the Hellenic Polioviruses/Enteroviruses Reference Laboratory performed detailed supplementary surveillance of circulating enteroviruses among healthy individuals in high-risk population groups, among immigrants from countries in which poliovirus is endemic, and in environmental samples. In total, 722 stool samples and 179 sewage water samples were included in the study. No wild-type polioviruses were isolated during these 7 years of surveillance, although two imported vaccine polioviruses were detected. Enterovirus presence was recorded in 25.3 and 25.1% of stool and sewage water samples, respectively. Nonpolio enteroviruses isolated from stool samples belonged to species A, B, or C; coxsackievirus A24 was the most frequently identified serotype. Only enteroviruses of species B were identified in sewage water samples, including four serotypes of echoviruses and four serotypes of coxsackie B viruses. Phylogenetic analysis revealed close genetic relationships among virus isolates from sewage water samples and stool samples, which in most cases fell into the same cluster. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to compare enterovirus serotypes circulating in fecal specimens of healthy individuals and environmental samples, emphasizing the burden of enterovirus circulation in asymptomatic individuals at high risk. Given that Greece continues to receive a large number of short-term arrivals, students, migrants, and refugees from countries in which poliovirus is endemic, it is important to guarantee high-quality surveillance in order to maintain its polio-free status until global eradication is achieved.IMPORTANCE This article summarizes the results of supplementary poliovirus surveillance in Greece and the subsequent characterization of enteroviral circulation in human feces and the environment. The examination of stool samples from healthy refugees and other individuals in "high-risk" groups for poliovirus enables the identification of enterovirus cases and forms the basis for further investigation of the community-level risk of viral transmission. In addition, the examination of composite human fecal samples through environmental surveillance links poliovirus and nonpoliovirus isolates from unknown individuals to populations served by the sewage or wastewater system. Supplementary surveillance is necessary to comply with the prerequisites imposed by the World Health Organization for monitoring the emergence of vaccine-derived polioviruses, reemergence of wild polioviruses, or disappearance of all vaccine-related strains in order for countries such as Greece to maintain their polio-free status and contribute to global poliovirus eradication. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.

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