Polio Home > Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus

A vaccine-derived poliovirus is a strain of poliovirus, initially contained in the live oral polio vaccine, that has changed over time; it behaves more like a wild or naturally occurring virus. This means that it can be more easily spread to others who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with an infected person.

Can the Polio Vaccine Cause Polio?

Polio (also known as poliomyelitis or infantile paralysis) is an illness caused by poliovirus. At one time, poliovirus infection occurred throughout the world. In about 1 percent of cases, polio disease can result in paralysis.
 
Polio prevention begins with polio vaccines. There are two general types of polio vaccine. One type is inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), meaning that the vaccine contains no live poliovirus. The other is live oral polio vaccine (OPV), which contains live but weakened poliovirus.
 
In 2000, oral poliovirus vaccine no longer was recommended in the United States for preventing polio because of the rare risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis. Vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis is an illness that is caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus.
 

What Is Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus?

A vaccine-derived poliovirus is a strain of poliovirus, initially contained in the live oral polio vaccine, that has changed over time; it behaves more like a wild or naturally occurring virus. This means that it can be more easily spread to others who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or oral secretions, such as saliva, of an infected person. These viruses may cause illness, including paralytic poliomyelitis.
 

Occurrence of Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus

In 2005, a vaccine-derived poliovirus was found in the stool of an unvaccinated child in the state of Minnesota. The child most likely caught the virus through contact in the community with someone who received live oral vaccine in another country.
 
Because oral poliovirus vaccine has not been used in the United States since 2000, it is likely that any vaccine-derived poliovirus seen in the United States would have come from a person who received oral poliovirus vaccine in another country. Oral poliovirus vaccine is used in many countries of the world, including Central and South America, Africa, and Asia.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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