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Moline City Water Department using raw wastewater to monitor COVID-19, flu, and RSV trends

Sep 15, 2023

MOLINE, Ill — Since more people are now testing for COVID-19 at home, the Moline City Water Department is using wastewater to measure trends, not only with COVID, but for flu and RSV.

It's through a program with the Illinois Department of Public Health for wastewater surveillance. Lab Technicians in the utilities lab at Moline's water department gather samples of raw wastewater and then ship them to a lab at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The samples are then analyzed for signs of COVID-19, flu or RSV.

"What the data provides is, it's a composite of everything that's being flushed down the pipe," Moline utilities lab manager Charles Brown said. "So all, everyone's individuality and their data is protected. We can't say this person has it, or that person has it. On the flip side, we can't even tell exactly how many people have it because some people will shed more virus than others."

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