Mixed infections occur in the natural environment, and also result from the use of mixed live vaccines. Some recipients of the trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine develop vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis (VAPP). Numerous serotypes and recombinant genotypes of vaccine-derived polioviruses may be found in stool samples from such cases. To investigate the relationship between the multiplication of various genotypes at the primary replication site in the gut and the infection outcome in the central nervous system (CNS), the viruses excreted on consecutive days by two patients with VAPP were compared with the viruses isolated from the CNS. The genotypes from stools were numerous and varied with time in both cases, suggesting a multiplication of the viruses in multiple foci in the gut. Where the CNS isolated virus clearly corresponded to one of the many viruses detected in stool, this virus was unexpectedly less neurovirulent than others isolated from stool. To assess the mechanism by which viruses with different degrees of neurovirulence are selected in the CNS, transgenic mice sensitive to poliovirus infection were inoculated extraneurally with mixtures of two phenotypically different viruses at different neuropathogenic doses. The virus(es) inducing neurological disease was then isolated from the CNS. At less than 100% input neuropathogenic dose of both inoculated viruses, individual mice were affected stochastically by the virus variants from the mixture. Extrapolated to humans, this selection pattern might explain the occurrence of CNS infections with less neurotropic viruses derived from an extraneural pool containing also highly neurotropic viruses.


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