Valley Sanitary District is conducting the testing at no cost to our ratepayers

INDIO — The Valley Sanitary District will begin testing wastewater in the Coachella Valley for the monkeypox virus next week as part of a public health surveillance program.

“This is an important effort to collect data at the local level that can help track outbreaks and assist health experts in addressing them,” Scott Sear, president of the VSD Board of Directors, said in a statement. “The testing is voluntary on the part of our agency and is being conducted at no cost to our ratepayers.”

WastewaterSCAN data will determine transmission and guide public health response nationwide and add to surveillance efforts for COVID-19, according to a statement from VSD.

The surveillance is led by Stanford and Emory universities and will expand on the work of scientists at the two institutions, as well as the University of Michigan’s work in 2020, when the Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network sampled, analyzed and monitored wastewater solids for COVID-19, monkeypox, flu, RSV and other infectious diseases, according to the statement.

As of Friday, a total of 124 probable or confirmed monkeypox cases were reported in Riverside County, with almost half in Palm Springs, according to the latest Riverside University Health System data.

Monkeypox is generally spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact, resulting from infectious rashes and scabs, though respiratory secretions and bodily fluids exchanged during extended physical episodes such as sexual intercourse can also lead to transmission, according to the CDC.

Symptoms include fresh pimples, blisters, rashes, fever and fatigue. There is no specific treatment. People who have been infected with smallpox, or have been vaccinated for it, may have immunity to monkeypox.

People with symptoms are urged to visit a medical provider, cover the rash area with clothing, wear a mask and avoid close or skin-to-skin contact with others.

The CDC particularly recommends those steps for people who recently traveled to an area where monkeypox cases have been reported or who have had contact with a confirmed or suspected monkeypox case.

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