MSU team hopes Detroit wastewater will help chart the past, future of COVID-19 outbreak

May 19, 2020

A team of Michigan State University researchers hopes Detroit sewage will hold clues about the trajectory of COVID-19.

The group has been sampling raw sewage as it arrives at a Great Lakes Water Authority water treatment plant every week since mid-April.

Environmental engineering professor Irene Xagoraraki is leading the effort. She used the same method for a similar project that traced viral outbreaks, including a significant Hepatitis A outbreak, in Detroit several years ago.

“We put everything together, and we were able to see the spikes in Hepatitis A seven to nine days prior to the time they showed up in the clinical data,” Xagoraraki said. “So based on those results, we thought we could do something similar with COVID-19.”

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