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Monkeypox: The city of Houston begins testing community sewage to monitor virus levels

Houston, Texas– The city of Houston will soon begin monitoring its sewage system for monkeypox, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced during an Aug. 3 news conference.

Turner said testing would begin in the next few weeks. Money will soon be taken from the fund balance and brought to the Houston City Council to assist the Houston Department of Health in monitoring monkeypox, he said.

As previously reported by community impact newspaper, Sewage testing has been around for over 80 years, but Houston began using the technique in 2020 to gain insight into community spread of the coronavirus. HHD, Houston Public Works and Rice University are collaborating to collect flush water data from Houston’s 39 wastewater treatment plants.

During the press conference, Dr. David Persse, Houston Emergency Medical’s medical director, said COVID-19 surveillance has given hospitals the ability to be notified three weeks in advance of what to expect in terms of trends and hospitalizations.

Regarding monkeypox, Persse said the city’s sewage tests will give it a better idea of ​​where the virus is geographically. But since it’s a different virus with different pathogens and physiologies, he said it will be a learning curve.

As of Aug. 4, the Harris County Health Department has reported a total of 165 cases of monkeypox, with 143 reported in the city of Houston and 22 in the rest of Harris County. To combat the spread of the virus, both the county and city are administering vaccines to high-risk groups, e.g. B. People who have attended an event or venue at high risk of exposure to the virus and skin contact. Individuals diagnosed with early-stage gonorrhea or syphilis within the past three months; and people working in a commercial sex venue or other venues where a person has anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners.

Persse said the vaccine was aimed at the “risk takers”.

“Watch your behavior,” said Persse. “When you’re out and about with new sex partners, you’re at high risk, but you’re in control of it.”

As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, the city and county were given 16,780 additional doses of the Jynneos vaccine to treat rising monkeypox cases. However, Turner said during the press conference that more vaccines are needed.

If supply doesn’t keep up with demand and the number starts to double, Turner said he will try to declare a public health emergency. As of this writing, he said no such explanation was required.

“We look at the numbers every day,” Turner said. “We’re not there yet.”

More information about monkeypox, how to get tested for it and how to get vaccinated can be found here.

For more information, see our ABC13 partner at Community Impact Newspaper.

https://abc13.com/monkeypox-virus-wastewater-covid-19-community/12102946/ Monkeypox: The city of Houston begins testing community sewage to monitor virus levels

Dais Johnston

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