Clean Water Current

DHHS: Nebraska wastewater sampling indicates COVID-19 variants ahead of verified cases

May 13, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Wastewater analysis data from communities across the state is helping experts in Nebraska get a clearer picture of the evolution of COVID-19 variants these last 14 months.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services released a report Wednesday summarizing more than a year of wastewater sampling to determine COVID-19 levels across the state.

DHHS, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the UNMC College of Public Health, and wastewater utilities across the state have been working together to monitor COVID-19 levels in feces at wastewater plants in communities across Nebraska since March 2021. The hope is that by analyzing the patterns — determining detectability, prevalence, and transmissibility — the data can help identify trends that can help inform public health responses to become more proactive rather than reactive. The information could also help officials understand how the variants are affected — if at all — by current vaccination levels.

“Wastewater surveillance is an emerging public health tool,” the DHHS informational site states. “There is evidence that the quantity of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater is correlated with infections in the wastewater sewershed area.”

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