Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 CDC Home Search Health Topics A-Z

Media Relations
Media Home Page | Contact Us
US Department of Health and Human Services logo and link

Media Relations Links
About Us
Media Contact
Frequently Asked Questions
Media Site Map

CDC News
Press Release Library
MMWR Summaries
B-Roll Footage
Upcoming Events

Related Links
Centers at CDC
Data and Statistics
Health Topics A-Z
Image Library
Publications, Software and Other Products
Global Health Odyssey
Find your state or local health department
HHS News
National Health Observances
Visit the FirstGov Web Site
Div. of Media Relations
1600 Clifton Road
MS D-14
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3286
Fax (404) 639-7394


CDC Telebriefing Transcript
Progress Toward Global Polio Eradication

March 28, 2002

MR. ALLEN: Thank you for joining us today. Today, Dr. Patrick Zuber--that is spelled Z-u-b-e-r--a medical epidemiologist with the National Immunization Program at CDC, will discuss progress toward global eradication of polio.

With that, I will turn it over to Dr. Zuber, and after his initial remarks, we will open it up for questions. Thank you very much.

Dr. Zuber?

DR. ZUBER: Good afternoon. During 2001, there have been 473 laboratory-confirmed poliomyelitis cases reported throughout the world. There were only 10 countries, three in Asia and seven in Africa, that experienced indigenous transmission. Of these 10 countries, only three--India, Pakistan, and Nigeria--are still considered to be major polio virus reservoirs.

Improved access to all children, continued political commitment, and assurance of uninterrupted funding will be will be necessary to interrupt wide polio transmission globally.

As the eradication of poliomyelitis is in sight, preparation for post-eradication activities is underway. This includes the development of laboratory containment plans in all countries, certification that the world is free of polio after six regional certification commissions will have reviewed all available evidence, and planning for post-certification vaccination policy.

MR. ALLEN: Okay. Bill, we will open it up for questions now. Thank you.


Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to ask a question, please press "1" on your touchtone phone. You will hear a tone indicating you have been placed in queue, and you may remove yourself from queue at any time by pressing the pound key. If you are using a speaker phone, please pick up your handset before pressing the number. Once again, if you do have a question or comment, please press the "1" at this time.

The first line will open. It is Ted Vigodsky [ph] at Public Broadcasting. Please go ahead. Mr. Vigodsky, your line is open.

QUESTION: I have no question. I am just listening. Thank you.

CDC MODERATOR: All right. Thank you. We will move on.

The next line that will open is Maryn McKenna [ph], the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks for conducting this.

Dr. Zuber, could you comment on the expectation that eradication will be achieved by the date set by WHO in light of the work reported a few weeks ago by Drs. Mark Pallansch [ph] and Olen Kew [ph] at the CDC's Polio Lab that low levels of vaccination in Hispaniola had allowed the vaccine virus to revert back to something resembling a wild virus type and cause an outbreak?

DR. ZUBER: Yes, certainly. Thank you for asking this question.

There are really two different challenges. One challenge is getting rid of the current wild polio for which we are reporting that there are only 10 countries left with endemic disease. The next challenge is to discuss strategies to discontinue oral poliovirus vaccination, and the latest events in Hispaniola that you are mentioning, but also a similar situation in the Philippines has demonstrated to us that when a country keeps a low level of routine vaccination with oral poliovirus vaccine, there is a risk that the vaccine virus can revert to a virulent form.

However, the good news is that there is a strategy that works for control of the wild polio. This strategy also appears to work for the vaccine-derived polio. In Hispaniola, it was possible to control this outbreak with exactly the same strategy of mass vaccinations campaigns that are used in countries with wild polioviruses.

QUESTION: Can I ask a follow-up question?

MR. ALLEN: Sure.

DR. ZUBER: Sure.

QUESTION: When they announced their reports, Drs. Kew and Pallansch made the point that, as a result of their findings, post-eradication activities might have to be a two-step process; that the first goal would be eradication of wild-type polio. The second goal would be the cessation of OPV use, and since OPV is particularly well adapted to the demands of polio eradication in the developing world and since vaccination has to go on for a certain number of years in order to achieve eradication, can you just unpack a little more the degree of challenge that the finding poses?

DR. ZUBER: Yes. I think that what our colleagues implied is that once countries have not observed wild polio cases for several years, the job may not be over because there is still a risk that the disease would either come back as a result of importation, but also come back as a result of mutation, like they demonstrated in their article. So countries that have weak infrastructure for delivering routine vaccination will probably need to keep conducting mass vaccination campaigns for a certain time until it is possible to discontinue oral polio vaccine use throughout the world.

And there is a working group from the World Health Organization and its partners that is currently trying to explore the various scenarios to identify the best strategy to discontinue oral polio vaccination.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MR. ALLEN: Thank you.

CDC MODERATOR: Our next question will come from Martha Curr [ph] at Reuters Health. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Dr. Zuber, what plans do you have or does the world have to improve vaccination rates in India, Pakistan, and Nigeria?

DR. ZUBER: Each of these three countries benefit now from a technical advisory group. These groups review progress on a very regular basis, and they propose, in addition to the annual mass vaccination campaigns, some focal activities where the highest risk of polio transmission is found. In certain areas of these countries, as many as four to six rounds of mass vaccination campaign can be conducted during a year, and we are hopeful that this approach should allow us to finish the job over the next 12 to 34 months.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MR. ALLEN: Next question.

CDC MODERATOR: Once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question or comment, please press the "1" at this time, and our next question will come from the line of Paul Simione [ph] with Reuters. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. I notice you have listed two cases in Europe in 2001. I was wondering what they referred to and what the background was on them.

DR. ZUBER: Yes. There were two cases that were diagnosed in Bulgaria. These cases were found among children from minority groups of Roma people, and when the virus was isolated, it was found that this virus strain was a virus strain that had never been found in Europe before, but resembled very much a strain that was circulating in the Northern India 6 to 12 months earlier. So the most likely explanation is that this was an importation of wild polio into Bulgaria from India, and the exact mechanism for interdiction of this strain remains unknown, but we have seen importations of polio in various parts of the world, and we tend to identify these importation more frequently now that polio has become a rare event.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ALLEN: Next question.

CDC MODERATOR: Well, there are no additional questions at this time, sir. Please continue with your presentation.

MR. ALLEN: If there are no further questions, we will conclude the presentation.

The presentation will be on the website around 4:00 this afternoon, and you are welcome to call, to visit the website, or if you have additional questions, you might want to try calling the press office at (404)( 639-3286).

Thank you very much.

CDC MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude your teleconference for today. Thank you for your participation and for using the AT&T Executive Teleconference Service. You may now disconnect.

Listen to the telebriefing

Media Home Page | Accessibility | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

CDC Home | Search | Health Topics A-Z

This page last updated March 28, 2002

United States Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Office of Communication
Division of Media Relations