An overview of serologieal and virological studies on poliomyelitis in the Netherlands between two epidemics in 1978 and 1992 is given. Three unvaccinated patients acquired poliomyelitis abroad. In the Netherlands vaccination coverage with quadruple DPT–IPV vaccine is very high. The strong immunogenicity of inactivated poliovirus vaccine was confirmed in a cohort of children, reflected in age-stratified antibody profiles of the population. Adults born in the pre vaccination era appeared in general protected, but 10–25% of persons born between 1930 and 1945 lacked neutralizing antibodies. Revaccination induced a booster type of antibody response in 75–90% of such persons, indicating immunological memory and protection.
Virological studies on adopted children from other countries, patients with indications for viral examination, and river waters showed that the Netherlands was regularly exposed to polio virus (PV), without signs of indigenous transmission. Persons found to carry PV or their close contacts had travelled to a PV endemic country. Most of 557 isolates were vaccine-derived, only 8% were wild type viruses. Despite their presence, up to 1992 the well-known susceptibles for PV in the Netherlands were shielded by the herd immunity of the Dutch population.