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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expanding its surveillance program that tests international air travelers for flu, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), COVID-19, and other viruses.

Through voluntary nasal swabs and wastewater collection from airplanes that fly internationally, the CDC will be evaluating collected samples to check for viruses. Anything that tests positive will be sequenced and uploaded to public databases, which will be used to help monitor illnesses being brought into the United States.

“[This program] provides a robust set of surveillance data on the strains of viruses currently circulating around the globe,” Brad Hutton, MPH, an infectious-disease epidemiologist, former deputy commissioner of public health at the New York State Department of Health, and a public health consultant, told Health.

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