Medical Detectives Look to Sewage for Coronavirus Answers

Sewage tells stories.

Epidemiologists have used the residues in sewage to learn about the prevalence of poliovirus and to detect illegal drug use.

Now, researchers are using those same methods to trace the new coronavirus in municipal wastewater. The goal is to provide an early warning system to monitor the spread of the virus thorough a city before it is detected in individuals. It is especially difficult, for instance, to track the prevalence of cases in which infected people show only mild symptoms and thus do not get tested.

Early results are promising and show high demand. Sewage sampling in the Netherlands found traces of the virus before an individual case was confirmed in the city of Amersfoort, while a medical testing startup in the United States is already at capacity for its sewage sampling campaign.

Read the full story on Circle of Blue.

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