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“We can get an amazing amount of information about the community from a quarter cup.”

Prof. Marc Johnson, University of Missouri, on the state's monitoring of sewage waste to track COVID-19 infections.

Wastewater collection continues to expand for COVID-19 surveillance.

Published on

jul 28, 2021

  • The state's project is called "Sewershed" - through PCR testing, it tracks the presence of the virus that causes of COVID-19 in sewage waste.
  • This type of surveillance has expanded nationwide as health officials look for ways to monitor contagion.
  • The current thinking: a person sheds the virus days before symptoms, giving public health officials a heads-up on the state of the virus in the community.
  • The research does have limits - it's not great for sequencing variants, and storms/flooding can dilute samples.
  • Why It Matters: Used before for other viruses like polio, this surveillance gives health officials information that doesn't require public participation, and can hopefully help forecast potential spikes of infection.

Here's a good read on the topic: Wastewater Helps Health Officials Spot Covid-19 Warning Signs

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