Poliovirus Immunity among Children Aged 6–11 and 36–48 Months in 14 Polio High-Risk Provinces of Afghanistan: A Health-Facility-Based Study

Sajid Bashir Soofi, Maureen Martinez, Noha H. Farag, William S. Hendley, Derek Ehrhardt, Imran Ahmed, Imtiaz Hussain, William Weldon, Ahmed M. Kassem

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Afghanistan is one of two countries where wild poliovirus (WPV) type 1 remains endemic. We conducted a facility-based cross-sectional survey of antipoliovirus antibodies in children in 14 provinces of Afghanistan. The provinces were selected based on programmatic priorities for polio eradication. Children aged 6–11 and 36–48 months attending outpatient clinics were enrolled in the study. We collected venous blood, isolated serum, and conducted neutralization assays to detect poliovirus neutralizing antibodies. A total of 2086 children from the 14 provinces were enrolled. Among the enrolled children, 44.3% were girls; the median age in the 6–11-month group was 9.4 months, and in the 36–48-month group, it was 41.8 months. The most common spoken language was Pashtu (70.8%). Eighty-two percent of children were fully immunized against all the diseases in the vaccination schedule of Afghanistan. In the children aged 6–11 months, seroprevalence to poliovirus type 1 (PV1) was 96.5% and seroprevalence to poliovirus type 3 (PV3) was 93%; in children aged 36–48 months, seroprevalence to PV1 was 99.5% and to PV3 was 98%. Antipoliovirus antibody prevalence for poliovirus type 2 (PV2) was 70.5% in the younger group compared with 90.9% in the older children. Children from Herat and Laghman provinces had almost 100% seroprevalence to PV1, and other provinces also had high prevalence, ranging from 92.0% to 99.0%. A similar finding was seen for antibodies against PV3, ranging from 88% to 100% by province. On the contrary, antibodies to PV2 were low, ranging from 53% for children in the Khost province to around 89% in Kunduz. There was a cluster of 18 seronegative children in the Nuristan province. Overall, the polio eradication program of Afghanistan has been successful in achieving high seroprevalence of poliovirus neutralizing antibodies in the parts of the country included in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1726
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Afghanistan
  • children
  • health facilities
  • polio
  • serosurvey


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