Community spread of COVID-19 is challenging to control because symptoms can take up to two weeks to appear after contracting the virus. Making this even more challenging is the fact that many cases remain asymptomatic. As a complement to existing testing processes, communities, including universities, are searching for a more proactive approach to identifying early infection trends.
One of the most exciting advances in Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is the recently demonstrated ability to identify and measure COVID-19 genetic material in untreated wastewater reliably. SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes Covid-19 and is known to invade the gastrointestinal tract and is extracted in human sold waste.
The broad descriptions for various testing methodologies used to measure municipal water quality are "wastewater testing" or "wastewater quality indicators." These testing methods analyze wastewater's physical, chemical, and biological characteristics and now include testing for SARS-CoV-2. By sampling and testing wastewater samples, COVID-19 outbreaks are predictable well in advance.
To arrest Coronavirus's spread on campuses, schools and universities are turning to wastewater testing as a possible method for identifying and predicting outbreaks of Covid-19 in their facilities. Evidence is still preliminary, but it appears promising that this approach can allow schools to detect potential flareups weeks earlier than conventional population monitoring. Schools using wastewater-based epidemiology detection methods find COVID-19 more efficiently and less invasively compared to blanket individual student testing. The knowledge of increasing COVID-19 genetic material in untreated wastewater by schools and universities allows more precise deployment of mitigation initiatives and response plans, such as testing individuals, contact tracing, and quarantine.
HACH, a world-leader in water quality instrumentation and analysis, provides portable samplers that help researchers identify hot spots. The portable analyzer takes daily samples to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2, assisting researchers in predicting COVID-19 outbreaks.