ECDC provides assessment of accidental polio incident in Belgium

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) released an assessment on Monday of the accidental release of more than 11 gallons of concentrated live poliovirus into the environment in Belgium.

The ECDC said in its weekly Communicable Disease Threats Report that the accidental release represents a risk to public health if susceptible populations, including areas with low vaccine coverage, are exposed to contaminated water or mud. The ECDC specified the Lasne and Dyle rivers, which join the Escaut/Scheldt River and flows into the southwestern portion of the Netherlands where orthodox Protestant communities with low polio vaccination coverage live.

GlaxoSmithKline released the polio into the water in the city of Rixensart on Sept. 2, which was then conducted directly into a water treatment plant. Belgium's High Council of Public Health said the risk of infection in the population was extremely low due to the high level of dilution of polio in the water and the country's high vaccination coverage, which stands at 95 percent.

The weekly threats report also touched on the outbreak of enterovirus in the U.S., as well as the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. The ECDC also provided an update on West Nile virus in European Union member states, where 17 new human cases were reported in the previous week.