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Medical News & Perspectives
March 22/29, 2000

International Plan Focuses on Eradication of Polio and Containment of the Virus

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JAMA. 2000;283(12):1553-1554. doi:10.1001/jama.283.12.1553

Washington—With the eradication of poliomyelitis throughout the world soon to be accomplished—although the goal has been moved from 2000 to possibly as late as 2005—steps are being taken to prevent polioviruses that remain in laboratories from escaping into the community and causing disease. The need to keep this virus in close confinement was brought home the hard way—from experience with smallpox.

After smallpox was eliminated as an infectious disease in Great Britain in 1962, two outbreaks occurred, one in 1973 and one in 1978, when smallpox virus under study in laboratories infected susceptible individuals. In both incidents, deaths resulted.