Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance

Data Collection Type
National data collections of health and social care in Ireland

Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Year established


Statement of purpose

In Scope: To provide information on children aged less than 15 years of age presenting to Irish hospitals with acute flaccid paralysis. This information is used to ensure that all AFP cases in children are adequately investigated and to out-rule polio as a cause of the paralysis – this is in line with WHO recommendations that all countries should heighten surveillance to ensure that no polio cases are undetected.

Coverage (geographical and temporal)

Children aged less than 15 years of age from all regions of the country.

Case surveillance is monitored on on-going, annual basis.


HPSC communicates regularly with each paediatric hospital /unit to request and remind clinicians on the need to report all AFP cases in children aged less than 15 years of age. The completed forms are sent to HPSC. Anonymised copies are then subsequently forwarded to the NVRL.
HPSC collates the data each year and usually reports to the National Polio elimination Committee. A report may also be provided on the HPSC website and in the Epi-Insight monthly newsletter issued by the HPSC. (Note in 2021, two cases of APF cases were reported with no final diagnosis and no enhanced surveillance forms completed).

Data users


Data content

Case based data (anonymised) with clinical details of onset of paralysis, part of body affected, laboratory and radiological tests undertaken and results, polio vaccination history and outcome.

Data dictionary

Not available.

National-level identifier variables

No (DOB and patient initials maybe collected initially when case is reported, but these details removed from the HPSC database after a period of time once an annual electronic report is submitted online to WHO at )

Equity stratifiers

Among the equity stratifiers collected on each case are county of residence, gender and ethnicity.

Data collection methodology

Preliminary data is collected whenever a new case is reported and later, a surveillance form is completed by the relevant hospital which is then faxed or emailed to HPSC where the details are entered into an Access database.

Clinical coding scheme

Not in use.

Size of national collection

6 - 8 average number of records created annually. (Note: Much fewer cases have been reported in recent years (2020, 2021) on account of the COVID-19 pandemic with fewer enhanced surveillance forms completed).

Publication frequency

Annual summary figures are published on the HPSC website

Accessing data

Data requests can be submitted via and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Open data portal access


Email contact
Telephone contact
Other comments

AFP data in children aged less than 15 years of age is voluntary. It is estimated that there should be about 10-11 cases of AFP occurring in children aged less than 15 years of age each year. Under-reporting is likely in view of the normal reporting rate of between 6-8 cases per year or less.