STUDY OBJECTIVES: To assess the poliomyelitis trend, including study of the epidemiological features, and to correlate this with the immunisation coverage of infants. DESIGN: Three annual lameness surveys in children aged 0-60 months employing cluster sampling methods and a series of five cross sectional surveys of immunisation coverage in children aged 12-23 months of age were undertaken. SETTING: Pondicherry, India, 1988-92. SUBJECTS: More than 10,000 children in the age group of 0-60 months took part in the three annual lameness surveys and samples of 210 children aged 12-23 months were covered each year in immunisation coverage surveys. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Altogether 50 of 11,461, 24 of 10,093, and 17 of 11,218 children surveyed during 1989, 1990, and 1991 respectively had become lame as a result of poliomyelitis, giving prevalences of 4.4, 2.4, and 1.5 per 1000 children for the three surveys. The corrected prevalences of poliomyelitis were 5.9, 3.2, and 2.0 per 1000 children during 1989, 1990, and 1991 respectively. The proportion of cases aged up to 36 months fell from 48% in 1989 to 12.5% in 1990 and 6% in 1991. The age at onset was less than 1 year in most. The median age at onset was 10.7 months. About 54% of the affected children had received three doses of oral poliomyelitis vaccine (OPV) before the onset of paralysis. In 1988 immunisation coverage for the third dose of OPV was 91% and in 1992 it was 97.6%. The drop out rate for the first versus the third dose of OPV fell from 6.3 in 1988 to 1.9% in 1992. CONCLUSION: Three successive annual lameness surveys showed that poliomyelitis was declining between 1989 and 1991. Five immunisation coverage surveys conducted from 1988 to 1992 showed high initial coverage followed by an improvement in the form of almost universal coverage for OPV.
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