Wastewater surveillance is a technique that can be used to detect and track the spread of infectious diseases, including Covid-19. Wastewater is a rich source of genetic material from the people who use facilities in locations such as schools. By testing wastewater for the presence of viruses, public health officials can get an early warning of an outbreak before it becomes widespread.
Our recent study published in the journal PLOS One found that wastewater surveillance can be used to detect Covid-19 with high accuracy. The study, which was conducted in England collected wastewater samples over a period of six months. We found that wastewater samples from areas with high rates of Covid-19 infection had significantly higher levels of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material than samples from areas with low rates of infection.
We also found that wastewater surveillance can be used to track the spread of new variants of SARS-CoV-2. We were able to identify the Alpha and Delta variants in wastewater samples before these variants were detected in clinical samples.
Wastewater surveillance is a valuable tool for public health officials who are working to prevent the spread of Covid-19. It is a cost-effective and efficient way to identify outbreaks early and take steps to mitigate them. In addition to detecting COVID-19, wastewater surveillance can also be used to detect other infectious diseases, such as influenza and norovirus. This makes it a valuable tool for public health surveillance and outbreak response.
Wastewater surveillance will become increasingly important for protecting public health. It is a valuable tool that can be used to identify outbreaks early, track the spread of new variants, and monitor the effectiveness of public health interventions.