WASTEWATER SURVEILLANCE ASSISTS IN DETECTING NEW PUBLIC HEALTH THREATS

Aug 13, 2022

By Angus Gillespie

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Plans are underway to test Canadian sewage for novel health threats such as monkeypox.

Chief public health officer Theresa Tam says it’s the same technology used through the pandemic to track the spread of COVID-19.

Over the course of the global pandemic, wastewater detection became an effective way to track the spread of the virus, especially as free lab tests for individuals were phased out for all but a few in later waves.

Tam says her department also intends to start testing for polio as soon as possible after American health officials found the virus in New York City’s wastewater.

The monkeypox disease comes from the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated around the globe in 1980.

Cases of monkeypox began to appear around the world in non-endemic countries in May.

The number of Canadian cases has surpassed 1,000, though Dr. Tam says there are signs the virus may now be spreading at a slower rate.

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