OU & OSDH Team Up To Track Monkeypox In Wastewater

Thursday, August 11th 2022, 8:53 pm


The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is helping expand the waste water monitoring across the state. 

OU researchers have been monitoring several viruses in Oklahoma wastewater for two years. Now they're looking into monkeypox. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms there are 12 cases of monkeypox in Oklahoma. Researchers are hoping wastewater surveillance data will give them more information on the national public health emergency. 

“We're expanding to 30 cities across the state and these are generally communities from 5,000 to 50-70,000. So smaller communities that may not have the resources to do this on their own,” Jason Vogel said. 

The new partnership is with Tulsa and Oklahoma City County Health Departments, along with the State Health Department. Researchers will be monitoring several infectious viruses including monkeypox.  

“With COVID, you’re looking at hundreds or thousands of cases in one drainage. Now, it may be no cases, or it may be just a couple of cases trying to detect that needle in the haystack type thing is something that’s a new challenge and something that everybody that’s looking for monkeypox especially before there’s a lot of cases in the area is something that everybody is trying to overcome right now,” Vogel said. 

The Oklahoma State Health Department said there are seven cases confirmed in central Oklahoma and five cases in the northeast. 

“It’s important to know the true level of what’s going on in the community that’s both to educate people and also to prevent and control the disease in the end. It allows public health officials to gather information from populations that may not have good access to public healthcare,” Dr. Katrin Kuhn said. 

Researchers said they conduct wastewater surveillance at least once a week. They are still in the early stages of figuring out if they can detect monkeypox in wastewater. 


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