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Poliovirus vaccine strains detected in stool specimens of immunodeficient children in South Africa.

  • Pavlov, Dobromir N
  • Van Zyl, Walda B
  • Kruger, Mariane
  • Blignaut, Liezl
  • Grabow, Willie O K
  • Ehlers, Marthie M
Published Article
Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2006
PMID: 16290028


After exposure to the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV), immunocompetent persons excrete poliovirus (PV) vaccine strains for a limited period. In contrast, immunodeficient individuals remain sometimes chronically infected, and in some cases, PV excretion times as long as 10 years have been reported. During prolonged replication in the human intestine, the PV vaccine strain almost invariably reverts its attenuated character and acquires neurovirulent properties (vaccine-derived PVs, or VDPVs), which resemble wild-type PV strains. The aim of this study was to determine the occurrence of OPV strains in stools of immunodeficient children from a selected area in South Africa, as a first step toward future research on the prevalence and potential health impact of VDPVs. In a period of 1 year, a total of 164 stool samples of HIV-positive children aged 4 months to 8 years were studied for the excretion of OPV strains. In addition, 23 stool samples from healthy immunocompetent children were analyzed after receiving their OPV immunization. By applying a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in combination with a nested PCR, a total of 54 enteroviruses (EVs) were detected in the stool specimens of the immunodeficient children. Using restriction enzyme analysis, 13 PVs were distinguished from 41 nonpolio EVs (NPEVs). A Sabin-specific RT-triplex PCR confirmed the presence of 7 Sabin PV type 1, 4 Sabin PV type 3, and 2 Sabin PV type 2 isolates. The majority of the NPEV group was made up of 7 coxsackievirus B3 (CBV3), 6 echovirus 11 (ECV11), 5 ECV9, and 3 coxsackievirus A6 (CAV6) isolates. According to the results, two of the immunodeficient patients (P023 and P140) who had received their last OPV immunization more than 15 months before (vaccinated at 14 weeks of age) tested positive for Sabin PVs types 3 and 1, respectively. A 5-year-old immunodeficient patient (P052) who had received her last OPV immunization more than 42 months before (vaccinated at 18 months of age) tested positive for Sabin PV type 1. These results suggested that immunodeficient patients vaccinated with OPV might excrete potentially pathogenic VDPVs for a prolonged period. These VDPVs may circulate in the community, resulting in possible infections in the unvaccinated population. Therefore, the information obtained in this study would be essential for strategies aimed at the protection of both immunodeficient as well as immunocompetent individuals against complications of vaccination with OPV.

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