US colleges, cities test sewage for virus presence

Feb 5, 2021

The stinky stuff that dwells underneath the Michigan State University campus is no longer just simply waste.

It has become a public health tool.

Colleges across the U.S. that are grappling with the coronavirus are testing sewage for the presence of genetic material from the virus.

“It’s being used on campus as early warning and communication, so to let the students know that in their dorm there’s virus excretion, even if they don’t have cases,” said Joan Rose, the chair of water research at Michigan State.

Experts say it can be an inexpensive way to monitor people who may not even know they are sick yet.

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