Polio is a disease that has been eradicated in Belgium, yet it is still rife in other parts of the world. For as long as the polio virus is in circulation, unvaccinated children, from any country of origin, will run a risk of contracting polio. There is no treatment against polio, vaccination is the only means of prevention.
What does Sciensano do?
Sciensano, in particular the “Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases”, unit, centralises and analyses data related to Acute Flaccid Paralysis and enteroviruses.
This data comes from four sources of information:
- the notifiable disease surveillance system (maladies à déclaration obligatoire)
- the PediSurv network coordinated by Sciensano
- the National Reference Centre for polio and enteroviruses
- and the sentinel network of laboratories.
Sciensano’s biosafety and biotechnology service deals with matters related to confinement of polioviruses in laboratories and production companies. The “Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018”, to be applied on a worldwide scale, is particularly aimed at ensuring that an accidental propagation of poliovirus does not occur after the different types of poliovirus have been eradicated. Within this context, the biosafety and biotechnology service has compiled and regularly publishes an inventory of the establishments that keep wild strains of poliovirus or (Sabin) poliovirus vaccines.
All cases of, or all suspected cases of polio, including all cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP), must be reported to the hygiene inspectors.
Cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) that arise in children under 15 years of age, are monitored by the PediSurv network.
PediSurv is a surveillance network created to fulfil the objectives set by the World Health Organization, namely the eradication and the elimination of certain paediatric infectious diseases including polio.
This surveillance represents approximately 40% of Belgian paediatricians.
National Reference Centre for polio and enteroviruses
The National Reference Centre (UZ/KU Leuven) for polio and enteroviruses conducts virological surveillance of polioviruses and enteroviruses (the group to which polioviruses belong).
Network of Sentinel Laboratories
The Network of Sentinel Laboratories reports on data regarding enteroviruses (the group to which polioviruses belong) identified in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF — the fluid collected using a lumbar puncture) and study their epidemiology.