National Inventory for Poliovirus Containment

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Poliovirus containment is critical to minimize the risk of the virus getting into the environment and causing harm. Laboratories and other facilities that handle or store PV materials pose a risk for the virus being reintroduced into communities in which PV has been eradicated. Proper laboratory containment of PV is an important aspect of maintaining the world polio-free.
  • Poliovirus infectious materials include:
    1. Clinical material from confirmed wild PV infections
    2. Fecal or respiratory secretion samples from OPV recipients
    3. Environmental sewage or water samples that have tested positive for the presence of wild polioviruses
    4. Infected animals or samples from such animals, including human poliovirus receptor transgenic mice
    5. Viruses or derivatives produced in the laboratory that contain PV capsid sequences

For additional examples click here.

  • Potentially infectious PV materials were collected at a time and place where polio was endemic or when live poliovirus vaccine was in use. These include:
    1. Respiratory specimens (throat swabs, nasopharyngeal swabs)
    2. Stool specimens
    3. Environmental (untreated water and sewage) specimens
    4. Uncharacterized enterovirus-like cell culture isolates
    5. Respiratory and enteric virus stocks handled under conditions where poliovirus contamination or replication is possible
    6. Products of these materials from poliovirus permissive cells or animals

For additional examples click here.

Containment is achieved by 1) destroying unneeded PV material and potentially infectious material, 2) transfer of material to a certified poliovirus-essential facility (PEF), or 3) implementing safety and security measures to prevent release of the virus.

  • All biomedical laboratories and facilities that will continue to handle and store PV type 2 infectious and potentially infectious poliovirus materials must be certified as poliovirus-essential facilities (PEFs). GAPIII specifies requirements for containment, including facility risk management, biosecurity, engineering controls, community population immunity, and local sanitation standards.
  • Global polio eradication is anticipated within the next few years. In a polio-free world, the only possible PV sources will be certified PEFs biomedical laboratories and facilities working with the virus or handling samples collected at a time the live PV vaccine was in use.
  • The U.S. National Authority for Containment (U.S. NAC) surveys laboratories and other facilities in the United States that may possess PV materials and materials potentially containing PV. The inventory maintains information about PV infectious materials and potentially infectious materials (eg. stool and respiratory secretion specimens) that are currently in use and/or stored by these facilities.
  • Yes, in response to the World Health Assembly resolution, national inventories are already underway or completed in countries in the Americas, Western Pacific, European, Eastern Mediterranean, African, and Southeast Asia regions.
  • Polioviruses may be present in clinical and environmental materials collected for any purpose at a time and place when PV was endemic or when the live virus vaccine was in use. Many laboratories may not be aware that such materials may harbor PV.

  • The purpose of the survey is to establish a national registry of facilities working with or storing poliovirus infectious or potentially infectious materials. While the survey only asks for the number of samples using broad ranges (e.g., 1-100, 1,000-5,000, 50K+), it is important for the individual completing the survey to have a current and comprehensive knowledge of your inventory.
  • Yes, as this is the national inventory for the U.S., it would be greatly appreciated if you would complete the survey so that we have a record of your response. If you have no biological materials at risk for having PV, the survey will only take a few minutes.
  • Yes, you should take the survey as it addresses both infectious poliovirus and materials with the potential to contain the virus. Depending on the time and place in which materials were collected, the possibility of poliovirus contamination exists. The survey questions will guide you and help determine whether your materials could contain the virus.

Taking the Survey
  • Investigators or directors should complete or oversee completion of the survey if their laboratory, biobank or facility tests, extracts, handles, or stores biological samples from humans, experimentally infected animals, sewage, or environmental waters. When completing the survey, facilities should coordinate with laboratory staff who work with the material on a regular basis.
  • Yes, you should take the survey but limit the scope of your responses to your laboratory only. If others in your facility are working with or storing biological materials, please work with your biosafety officer or other institutional representative to coordinate a response.
  • This survey is a follow-up to the 2015 survey. It focuses on respiratory samples and biological or environmental samples that have the potential to contain poliovirus, whereas, the 2015 survey focused primarily on known infectious material. Because this is the national poliovirus inventory for the U.S., broader in scope than prior surveys, your response provides the U.S. NAC with an updated and current record.
  • No. While we are very interested in identifying other laboratories with infectious poliovirus and/or potentially infectious material, the survey link you received may be specific to you and should not be shared. If you would like to share the survey with others, you may direct them to the U.S. NAC website where they can access the survey or ask them to contact the U.S. NAC at
  • The decision regarding the scope of your survey response and who it includes is dependent on you. You may submit a single survey if you are comfortable with your level of awareness of the inventory for the entire institution. For example, Some facilities may have a biosafety officer or other institutional representative with a broad and comprehensive awareness of the facility’s inventory complete the survey for all labs. Others may choose to have individual principal investigators complete the survey independently. Regardless of the approach taken, it is critical that the individual completing the survey is aware of the sample/specimen inventory and history of the materials (i.e., date and place of collection). You have the option of providing us with a list of PIs with email addresses and we can issue individual survey links from our survey software. This method allows you to be assured that each of your PIs has completed the survey as we can track completion of each unique survey invitation.
  • The time needed to complete the survey depends heavily on your knowledge of the material inventory at your facility. We highly recommend reviewing the survey questions and preparing your responses prior to beginning the online survey in order to reduce the input time. A fully prepared response should take less than 30 minutes to enter on the site.
  • Should you need to resume answering the survey at a later time, clicking this option will save all your answers and a unique return code will be generated which will allow you to go back to the saved survey session. You will be sent an email with instructions for returning to your survey. Please be sure to write down the return code when prompted as the code will not be provided by email.
  • We ask for the location (laboratory information) of the stored materials so that we’re able to understand the scope of the survey response (e.g., does one report for a single lab or an entire department) and to identify laboratories who may actually be reporting the same materials within a facility.
  • If you opt to have each PI take the survey, you may request to be provided with a list of surveys received from your facility. Survey responses may be provided to an institution’s Biosafety Office or other appropriate institution representative upon request.
  • The information you provide is confidential and although we are required to report national-level data to WHO, that is done only in aggregate. If your facility destroys, transfers or retains materials that fall within GAPIII and/or registers as a poliovirus- essential facility (PEF) then WHO would be notified of your participation in the program. Survey responses may be provided to an institution’s Biosafety Office or other appropriate institution representative upon request.
Page last reviewed: July 3, 2019, 12:00 PM