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CDC to Expand Virus Detection Program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will broaden its infectious disease surveillance program to detect more than “30 bacteria, antimicrobial resistance targets and viruses,” including two types of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2, UPI reports.

What’s going on: As part of its Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance program, “[t]he agency will launch the pilot program in four of America’s busiest airports: Boston Logan International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.”

  • “Samples that test positive will be uploaded to public databases that will help educate and inform public health officials and decision makers about the prevalence of infectious respiratory diseases.”

The background: The surveillance initiative began during the global pandemic. Health workers tested nasal swabs and wastewater samples from passengers who were arriving in the U.S. on international flights and agreed to the testing.

Why it’s important: “[T]he TGS program acted as an early warning system to detect new and rare variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the pandemic and will do the same for other respiratory viruses in the future, providing more detailed information for public health officials.”

What now? Samples that test positive in the expanded program will be sequenced and added to public databases “to provide valuable information to health officials and decision makers.”

  • “One sample from an aircraft coming from a geographic destination afar can give us information potentially about 200 to 300 people that were on that plane,” Cindy Friedman, who leads the surveillance program, told UPI.
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