Several developed countries reporting Poliovirus, Canada to soon start testing wastewater for polio

Polioviruses. Image credit: Wikimedia commons

Canada reportedly intends to start testing wastewater from a number of cities as soon as possible after new reports of polio cases abroad, and the wastewater of several other developed countries containing virus samples.

Polio activity around the world is already being monitored by The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Any suspected positive Canadian samples of poliovirus will be sent to the PHAC’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg — which currently has the diagnostic tools to test samples for poliovirus —  for further laboratory analysis and confirmation, with results shared with the respective local health authorities to enable them to take appropriate public health measures if needed.

According to the statement, PHAC has been communicating with national and international partners with expertise in this field to finalize a wastewater testing strategy. They would also test wastewater samples that were collected earlier this year from high-risk municipalities to determine if polio was present prior to the reported international cases.

The agency is not yet sharing which cities or municipalities are involved, a spokesperson said.

PHAC will also be sending samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional confirmation of polio presence.

“However, it is important to acknowledge that accurately testing wastewater for poliovirus is a developing science,” the agency’s statement continued. “For example, wastewater detections can be affected by extreme precipitation events, such as flooding in a community.”

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