July 28, 2021
We can get an amazing amount of information about the community from a quarter cup.Prof. Marc Johnson, University of Missouri, on the state’s monitoring of sewage waste to track COVID-19 infections.
- The state's project is called "Sewershed" – through PCR testing, it tracks the presence of the virus that causes of COVID-19 in sewage waste.
- This type of surveillance has expanded nationwide as health officials look for ways to monitor contagion.
- The current thinking: a person sheds the virus days before symptoms, giving public health officials a heads-up on the state of the virus in the community.
- The research does have limits – it's not great for sequencing variants, and storms/flooding can dilute samples.
- Why It Matters: Used before for other viruses like polio, this surveillance gives health officials information that doesn't require public participation, and can hopefully help forecast potential spikes of infection.
Here's a good read on the topic: Wastewater Helps Health Officials Spot Covid-19 Warning Signs
by Jenna Lee,