‘This is about community,’ Manitoba premier says of half marathon held to grow awareness of virus

Winnipeggers laced up to raise awareness of a virus that the province has promised funds to help tackle.

About 70 people ran a half marathon in Winnipeg’s St. Vital area on Sunday morning, hosted by CMV Canada, a national charity which works to prevent cytomegalovirus (CMV) — a viral infection that can cause serious birth defects in infants.

Manitoba’s 2024-25 budget, announced in April, said universal screening of the virus for all infants will be introduced in the province.

The province is budgeting up to $2 million a year for the screenings, but it’s expected to cost just under half of that, according to Premier Wab Kinew, who ran the half marathon.

“We want every newborn in Manitoba to get this test, that way you can flag the presence of the virus and then potentially offer treatment,” he said.

CMV Canada’s half marathon is more than just a health initiative, Kinew said.

“This is about community, this is about something we can all be proud of working on together for our province.”

Rob Tétrault, president of CMV Canada, says the move is a long time coming. He began to advocate for the screenings after his son was diagnosed with CMV over a decade ago.

“This is something that I’ve been working on for 16 years … and 10 years in Manitoba.”