Laboratory Activities

The Enterovirus Reference Laboratory is responsible for virological testing of specimens from patients with acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), the major clinical presentation of poliomyelitis.

WHO requires specimens from AFP cases to be tested in an accredited laboratory which for Australia is the national poliovirus reference laboratory at VIDRL.

The Enterovirus Reference Laboratory also tests poliovirus isolates from routine clinical procedures and untyped enteroviruses. The laboratory has worked closely with the Australian AFP clinical surveillance program since it was established in 1995. Click here for more information.

The WHO polio eradication program specifies the following criteria for testing specimens from AFP cases:
· Two faecal specimens, collected 24 hours apart and within 2 weeks of onset of symptoms.

The WHO polio program focuses on children under 15 years of age with AFP but the laboratory will test specimens from AFP cases of all ages in Australia. Referral of specimens to the poliovirus reference laboratory

All specimens are cultured for virus isolation. Poliovirus isolates are further tested by intratypic differentiation to determine if the virus is a wild or vaccine strain. Non-polio enterovirus isolates are tested to identify the specific serotype.