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Polio vaccination

Michael Poidinger mikep at uniwa.uwa.edu.au
Tue Oct 18 11:36:01 EST 1994

In article <cupton.1132587280H at ra.uvic.ca> cupton at sol.uvic.ca ( Chris Upton) writes:
>From: cupton at sol.uvic.ca ( Chris Upton)
>Subject: Polio vaccination
>Date: Sat, 15 Oct 94 05:40:40 GMT

>I just read in our local newsaper "health column" that polio booster shots
>were not being recommended since of the low prevalence of the disease in the
>Western Hemisphere!!!
>      Comments please!

>What kind of protection exists 10 or 20 years after vaccination?
>If there's a reduced resistance in the population.....  is there going to be
>a call for work with polio to be done under level 3/4 containment?
>Or maybe all stocks to be destroyed (as per smallpox)?????

There are many difference between smallpox and 
polio. The main point is that polio is a gut-tropic enterovirus, and hence is 
passed out in faecal matter. The vaccine strains are live and infectious, 
where the smallpox vaccine was not (infectious, that is. Nor was it smallpox 
for that matter). It is thus very widespread and constantly circulating 
throughout the community, especially in developing countries.  The WHO 
proposal to erradicate the disease is aimed not at ablating the virus from the 
world, but ensuring that the only poliovirus circulating is derived from 
vaccine, ie no wt virus is still present.

In addition, the poliovaccine strains are safe examples of a simple RNA virus, 
as opposed to the incredible complexity and inherent danger of smallpox.  Many 
labs around the world are investigating poliovirus to learn the nature of 
viral replication, transmission etc, because the poliovirus is so well studied 
and understood.  The use of vaccine strains in these studies means higher 
levels of containment are not required.  Note that even at present, any 
recombinant work with polio that may involving changing the virus 
neurovirulence is done at high containment levels.  An example being the 
chimaeric virus work being done at Reading, UK under prof JW Almond  (where I 
used to work).

Poliovirus isn't going to be irradicated, simply it is hoped that the 
widespread vaccinations will remove the wt virus from the system.  Note that 
the health column was talking about booster shots, not the original 

Hope these ramblings help.


Dr Mike Poidinger        
Microbiology, UWA       ==> Animal Welfare NOT Animal Rights       
Australia                  ==> 668, the neighbour of the beast                 
mikep at uniwa.uwa.edu.au  ==>Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana

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