Water Sector News
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How Wastewater Can Help Track Viruses Like Covid and Polio
The Covid-19 pandemic has turned sewage into gold.
People who are infected with the coronavirus shed the pathogen in their stool. By measuring and sequencing the viral material present in sewage, scientists can determine whether cases are rising in a particular area and which variants are circulating.
People excrete the virus even if they never seek testing or treatment. So wastewater surveillance has become a critical tool for keeping tabs on the virus, especially as Covid-19 testing has increasingly shifted to the home.
The institutions and localities that invested in wastewater surveillance over the last two years are discovering that it can be used to track other health threats, too. The Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network has already begun tracking the monkeypox virus in wastewater. And last week, New York City officials announced that polio had been detected in the city’s sewage.