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A National Survey to Eradicate Poliovirus from Laboratories

The Global Polio Eradication initiative, spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, UNICEF and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a worldwide effort to eradicate polio. Preventing the inadvertent transmission of polioviruses from the laboratory to a growing non-immune community is a crucial element of this initiative.

In June 2001, the Secretary for Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson declared that the "United States is fully committed to... the containment of any laboratory material that may harbor specimens of wild poliovirus." All biomedical laboratories that store specimens must be involved in the laboratory containment process because many may be unaware that they have materials in which wild polioviruses might be present.

In support of this effort, the CDC set up a national program to survey all biomedical laboratories that might contain or possess poliovirus. The survey, which begins this month, will alert laboratories to the impending eradication of polio, encourage the proper disposal of all unneeded wild poliovirus infectious and potential infectious materials, and establish a national inventory of laboratories retaining such materials.

The University of Pennsylvania is committed to participating in this national survey. The Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) will provide inventory survey forms to relevant faculty.

  • Faculty members are required to inventory their materials, dispose of unneeded virus or other potentially infectious materials, complete the form and return it to EHRS no later than December 6, 2002.
  • EHRS will file a summary inventory report for all Penn faculty with the CDC to meet the National Inventory of Wild Poliovirus Materials reporting deadline of December 31, 2002.

CDC may send inventory packages to multiple contacts on its mailing database, which is compiled from membership lists of many professional organizations. Consequently, Penn may receive more than one inventory package. Faculty should forward their packages to EHRS, 3160 Chestnut Street, Suite 400/6287.

Laboratories on the national inventory will be kept informed of polio eradication progress and notified of future biosafety requirements.

If you have any questions about the National Inventory of Wild Poliovirus Materials, contact EHRS at or (215) 898-4453.

Information about the National Inventory can also be found at: Penn's survey form will be available at the EHRS website,

--The Office of the Vice Provost for Research and

--The Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 7, October 8, 2002