Researchers want to expand wastewater surveillance

Apr 11, 2022

Arkansas scientists want to study your poop.

What's happening: Three University of Arkansas professors are applying for a $30 million grant from the CDC to expand surveillance, research and training for the COVID-19 virus and other diseases in wastewater, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

Why it matters: Wastewater can be an early indicator of how a disease is spreading or abating in a community. Aggregate data across the U.S. could help predict the next surge of COVID-19.

  • More than 700 sites in the U.S. report data to the National Wastewater Surveillance System, Axios' Tina Reed and Kavya Beheraj report.
  • But data are scant in some locations, including Arkansas where only Mississippi County reports to the agency. Just one other site in the state — Redfield in central Arkansas — tests wastewater for the virus.

The intrigue: One of the U of A scientists analyzed wastewater samples from sites in Northwest and central Arkansas in 2020.

  • The samples showed the virus increased in wastewater three to five days before an uptick in community cases was reported.

What we're watching: If the team receives the grant, participating researchers plan to expand the number of sites in the state that test for COVID and track variants of the virus.

Back To Top
Join NACWA Engage™ Careers Contact Us