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Expansion of Infectious Disease Surveillance Program at 4 Major U.S. Airports by CDC

Mix 247 EDM | November 7, 2023

Title: CDC Expands Pathogen Testing Program at Four Major U.S. Airports

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the expansion of its comprehensive testing program for pathogens at four major airports across the country. The CDC aims to detect and monitor over 30 different pathogens, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza, as part of its ongoing efforts to safeguard public health amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The testing initiative will be implemented at Boston Logan International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C., and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. International travelers arriving at these airports will be given the opportunity to volunteer and self-collect nasal swab samples for testing purposes.

Once collected, the nasal swab samples will be carefully transported to a laboratory network where they will undergo SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing. This testing methodology allows for the quick identification of positive samples, which then undergo further analysis through whole genome sequencing to determine if they contain any variants of concern.

Importantly, the CDC’s laboratory will also be receiving some of these positive samples for viral characterization. This will enable researchers to gain more insights into the behavior and potential risks associated with new variants that may be circulating within the population.

Moreover, the expanded program pays attention not only to airborne samples but also includes the collection and testing of wastewater for the monitoring of pathogens. The CDC’s airplane wastewater program, which previously underwent a pilot phase, will now be implemented on a broader scale to enhance pathogen surveillance and detection efforts.

This traveler surveillance program, which commenced in September 2021, reflects the CDC’s commitment to staying ahead in the fight against emerging infectious diseases. In addition to the four airports mentioned above, the program is already operational in six major U.S. international airports, further strengthening the nation’s ability to detect new variants and mitigate their impact on public health.

By implementing these expanded protocols, the CDC aims to bolster its pathogen monitoring capabilities while providing essential data to support public health decision-making strategies. The program’s success relies on the cooperation and engagement of international travelers who will have a voluntary opportunity to contribute to the collective effort to identify and combat emerging pathogens.

The expanded testing program at major U.S. airports serves as a vital tool in the nation’s ongoing battle against infectious diseases and demonstrates the CDC’s proactive approach in safeguarding public health within the United States and beyond.

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