Monkeypox Detected In Wastewater In Key California Region
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Monkeypox has been detected in the San Francisco-area wastewater as the virus that plagues mainly gay men continues to surge in certain areas of the country.

Stanford’s Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network, or SCAN, recently added monkeypox to the list of viruses it checks for in wastewater. Since adding it, monkeypox has been detected in 10 of the 11 sewer systems that SCAN tests, including ones in Sacramento, Palo Alto, and several other cities in California’s Bay Area, according to MIT Technology Review.

“The Bay Area is at the forefront of wastewater surveillance because we are Silicon Valley after all,” said Alexandria Boehm, co-director of SCAN and a Stanford professor who studies how pathogens spread. “But it’s not that California has monkeypox in the wastewater and no place else does.”

More than 2,500 cases of monkeypox have been recorded in the U.S in recent months. In the current resurgence, the virus has turned up in 74 countries — including 68 that had never seen it. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency, which the group’s director says is spreading “rapidly through new modes of transmission” around the world.

The virus was first discovered in 1958 among research monkeys, but spread to humans in the early 1970s. While extremely rare and not easily transmitted, the ongoing outbreak has been traced to gay sexual activity at two recent raves in Europe, according to a WHO expert.

Symptoms include “a fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions,” the WHO says on its website.

“Lesions can be flat or slightly raised, filled with clear or yellowish fluid, and can then crust, dry up and fall off. The number of lesions on one person can range from a few to several thousand,” the WHO site states, adding that lesions are usually “concentrated on the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet” but can spread to the mouth, genitals and eyes.

Two years ago, SCAN began to monitor California wastewater for COVID-19. The group’s current monkeypox testing looks for monkeypox in water from showers, sinks, and toilets sent to wastewater treatment plants for decontamination.

Boehm said testing monkeypox levels in wastewater is a good way to gauge its spread in a community.

The DNA of monkeypox can be detected in bodily fluids of those infected, including in their respiratory and nasal secretions, spit, urine, feces, and semen, according to the report.

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