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The science of detecting infectious disease in wastewater arrived with the COVID-19 pandemic

Mar 6, 2023

An innovative program born out of the COVID-19 pandemic gives new meaning to the old proverb, “waste not, want not.”

Wastewater surveillance, which involves analyzing human feces for indications that people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, better known as COVID-19, has become world-shattering in a quieter way than the germ.

After nearly three years, the practice is now a vitally important means of tracking the highly infectious disease, experts say.

The science of identifying emerging bodily contamination days before people realize they’re sick is a silver lining amid the detrimental effects of the 21st-century pandemic, said Rick Johnson, laboratory manager for Colorado Springs Utilities.

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