US will test its sewage system to detect traces of coronavirus

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 20, 2020

The data generated can help public health officials understand better the extent of Covid-19 infections in communities

The United States federal government will collaborate with local health workers to test sewage systems to detect traces of the coronavirus. The initiative has been taken up to aggressively contain the further spread of the coronavirus in the country, according to the US Centres for Disease Control.

The initiative is called National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The data generated by NWSS will help public health officials to better understand the extent of Covid-19 infections in communities, CDC said on its official website.

CDC believes that sewage testing can be successfully used as a means of early detection of other diseases, such as polio.

The agency noted that the SARS-CoV-2 can be shed in the faeces of individuals with symptomatic or asymptomatic infections; therefore, wastewater surveillance can capture data on both types of infections.

It added that almost 80 per cent of US households are served by municipal sewage collection systems and quantitative SARS-CoV-2 measurements in untreated sewage can provide information on changes in total Covid-19 infection in the community contributing to that wastewater treatment plant.

Depending on the frequency of testing, sewage surveillance can be a leading indicator of changes in Covid-19 burden in a community, the CDC stated.

SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection in sewage serves as a Covid-19 indicator that is independent of healthcare-seeking behaviours and access to clinical testing, it further added.

Published on August 20, 2020

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