Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, Tuesday, January 12, 2021 in Ottawa. Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada’s public health agency is looking to make the most of Canada’s waste, and plans to sift through the sewage to test for and measure new health threats like monkeypox, polio, antimicrobial resistant organism and more. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, Tuesday, January 12, 2021 in Ottawa. Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada’s public health agency is looking to make the most of Canada’s waste, and plans to sift through the sewage to test for and measure new health threats like monkeypox, polio, antimicrobial resistant organism and more. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canadian wastewater surveillance expanding to new public health threats: Tam

The Public Health Agency of Canada also intends to start testing for polio as soon as possible

Canada’s chief public health officer says plans are underway to sift through Canadian sewage to test for and measure new health threats like monkeypox and polio.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic wastewater detection became a key way to track the spread of the virus.

Dr. Theresa Tam says the experts at the National Microbiology Lab have now discovered a promising approach to detect monkeypox in wastewater and will use the infrastructure developed during the pandemic look for it.

How that monitoring fits into the Public Health Agency of Canada surveillance efforts on monkeypox is not yet clear.

The Public Health Agency of Canada also intends to start testing for polio as soon as possible after United States health officials say they found the polio virus in New York City’s wastewater.

Tam says wastewater detection is still imperfect but there’ is a lot of innovation happening now and the public health agency is looking for the best method to help standardize the process in Canada.

— Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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