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Am J Epidemiol. 1994 Dec 15;140(12):1111-24.

Paralytic poliomyelitis in Romania, 1984-1992. Evidence for a high risk of vaccine-associated disease and reintroduction of wild-virus infection.

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National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.


Although poliomyelitis due to wild-virus infection has virtually disappeared from Romania, with no cases having been documented between 1984 and 1989, vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis has been reported at very high rates for over two decades. In November 1990, to decrease the risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis, oral poliovirus vaccine produced in Romania was replaced by imported oral vaccine made by a Western European manufacturer. To better quantify the risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis and the impact of the change in vaccine manufacturer, the authors reviewed clinical, epidemiologic, and laboratory data on poliomyelitis cases that occurred in Romania from 1984 to 1992. Poliovirus isolates were characterized at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the period 1984-1992, 132 confirmed cases of paralytic poliomyelitis were reported in Romania, of which 13 were classified as wild-virus-associated, 93 as vaccine-associated, and 26 as "of unknown origin." Wild type 1 poliovirus was isolated during 1990-1992 from nine of 13 (69%) cases in an outbreak that occurred primarily among undervaccinated gypsy children. Vaccine-associated cases were epidemiologically and virologically distinct from wild-virus cases. Of the 93 vaccine-associated cases, 45 children were recipients and 48 were contacts. The overall risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis in Romania (1 case per 183,000 doses of oral poliovirus vaccine distributed) was 14-fold higher than the risk in the United States. The risks of recipient vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis related to the first dose of oral vaccine were similar for Romanian and imported vaccine (1 case per 95,000 doses and 1 case per 65,000 doses, respectively), as were the total risks of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis. These findings definitively demonstrate a substantially elevated risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis in Romania which was not affected by a change in oral poliovirus vaccine manufacturer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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