Polio is a serious infectious disease caused by the poliovirus (IPV). The virus is spread through human-to-human transmission. The infection can cause paralysis, can lead to permanent residual symptoms, and can sometimes be fatal.

In 1988, the World Health Assembly decided to eradicate polio. There have been no cases of polio in the Netherlands since 1994. Polio is only found in a few countries now, mainly in conflict areas and sometimes after natural disasters.  

If any new resurgence of the poliovirus does occur, we want to detect it quickly – preferably before people have polio. For that reason, RIVM conducts sewage research in places where fewer people are vaccinated against polio. 
Most people who have polio do not notice it at first, or only develop mild symptoms. Even then, high levels of the poliovirus can be found in their faeces. Therefore, testing sewage water for poliovirus is a very effective method for early detection of the virus. Sewage surveillance for poliovirus takes place all over the world.