Wastewater Surveillance To Be Tracked Beyond COVID
Testing wastewater is an easy and relatively cheap way to detect disease in a community. Even though scientists were unable to effectively use it as an early warning for COVID-19, their research is expected to help with other viruses and bacteria.
Metropolitan Sewer District Assistant Superintendent Bruce Smith and the EPA's Jay Garland started collecting samples this spring and testing it for the coronavirus. That's because there was evidence that even asymptomatic patients shed the virus into wastewater.
They wanted to give health officials an early heads up if a surge was coming. They perfected the testing methods but unfortunately not in time to warn communities of the spread.
"Right now it's no one's surprise that we would detect virus in the wastewater if most of the community has it and is shedding it," Smith says. "It doesn't provide a significant amount of new data."