University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Researchers and Public Health Officials Need to Learn From Each Other About Wastewater Surveillance

Newswise — MILWAUKEE _ Because the virus that causes COVID-19 – SARS-CoV-2 – can be found in sewage, the concentration of the virus in wastewater gives public health officials the opportunity to monitor an entire community at once, independent of testing.

But sewage surveillance during a pandemic is complex, requiring technical expertise and rapid interpretation of the sampling results so that public health officials can act on them.

A new study looks at building the needed communication network and the investment of resources necessary to sustain wastewater surveillance systems during a public health emergency. The work was done by a team of academic researchers, public health practitioners, and state and local environmental health agencies who were implementing wastewater surveillance programs in their jurisdictions as part of their COVID-19 response.

They wanted to detail the process so that wastewater surveillance can be established nationwide to aid in future pandemics or to track other health concerns, such as the extent of antibiotic resistance that’s present in communities.

“Knowledge transfer and co-development between academic labs to public health agencies is really an important part to understand what the results mean,” said Sandra McLellan, a professor of freshwater sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and lead investigator on the project. “So, the problem now is there’s a lack of relationships.”

The paper was published July 15 online in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Using wastewater samples in public health surveillance has never been done, McLellan said. Therefore, researchers across the country need to partner with health agencies and wastewater utilities at a grassroots level to trade questions and share experiences if a nationwide program were to be successful.

The researchers also found that an investment must be made in organizational leadership and staffing resources to sustain wastewater surveillance systems.

“Developing one-on-one relationships takes time and capacity,” McLellan said, “so the personnel has to be built into the actual projects.”

Along with McLellan, team member Dominique Brossard, a professor of life sciences communication at UW-Madison, convened a national panel of experts from academia, wastewater utilities and health departments.

“Like any potential technology, being aware of the ethical, social and legal implications is important, as is talking to potentially important stakeholders in the community, like business leaders,” Brossard said. “If a public health department is going to use this, they have to make sure they communicate accurately with their audiences.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already is developing the infrastructure for a national effort. Through the CDC National Wastewater Surveillance System’s portal, health departments can submit wastewater and associated metadata and receive real-time results to help them in their COVID-19 response. As of June 2021, public health departments in 31 states, two U.S. territories and three municipalities are using CDC funds to support wastewater surveillance activities.

McLellan has provided technical expertise to the CDC for its surveillance system. 

In Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services and the State Laboratory of Hygiene partnered with UW-Milwaukee to initiate SARS-CoV-2 testing at 70 municipal wastewater treatment plants in the summer of 2020. The data they generated has been publicly available on a dashboard since December 2020.

Local health departments have used the data to confirm health trends identified through clinical testing and see how it matches with clinical cases, hospitalizations and vaccine rates.

During the current phase of the pandemic, wastewater surveillance also could identify emerging variants that are circulating in the community. 

The research was funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY



Filters close

Showing results

110 of 6076
Newswise: UIC Awarded $6 Million to Develop Potential COVID-19 Treatment
Released: 28-Jul-2021 10:15 AM EDT
UIC Awarded $6 Million to Develop Potential COVID-19 Treatment
University of Illinois Chicago

Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago are developing a potential treatment for COVID-19, thanks to a $6 million technology and therapeutic development award from the U.S. Department of Defense supporting pre-clinical animal studies.

Newswise: Don’t Let the Raging Virus Put Life in Jeopardy. Chula Recommends How to Build an Immunity for Your Heart Against Stress and Depression
Released: 28-Jul-2021 8:55 AM EDT
Don’t Let the Raging Virus Put Life in Jeopardy. Chula Recommends How to Build an Immunity for Your Heart Against Stress and Depression
Chulalongkorn University

Cumulative stress, denial, and chronic depression are the byproducts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center for Psychological Wellness, Chulalongkorn University recommends ways to cope by harnessing positive energy from our heart.

Newswise: Connect Chicago Initiative Expands Community COVID-19 Testing
Released: 27-Jul-2021 4:45 PM EDT
Connect Chicago Initiative Expands Community COVID-19 Testing
Rush University Medical Center

As COVID-19 cases rise in the U.S., Connect Chicago — new initiative between the Chicago Department of Public Health, Rush University Medical Center, and Esperanza Health Centers — is aiming to redouble testing efforts in Chicago communities that need it most.

Newswise: California State University to Implement COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Fall 2021 Term
Released: 27-Jul-2021 1:35 PM EDT
California State University to Implement COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Fall 2021 Term
California State University (CSU) Chancellor's Office

California State University to Implement COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Fall 2021 Term

Released: 27-Jul-2021 12:55 PM EDT
Behind the COVID-19 Diagnostic for Testing Hundreds of People at a Time
The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation

Hertz Fellow Cameron Myhrvold and colleagues are advancing research that started long before the pandemic.

Released: 27-Jul-2021 12:35 PM EDT
T cell response not critical for immune memory to SARS-CoV-2 or recovery from COVID-19
American Society for Microbiology (ASM)

New research conducted in monkeys reveals that T cells are not critical for the recovery of primates from acute COVID-19 infections.

Released: 27-Jul-2021 11:45 AM EDT
mRNA Vaccinations vs COVID-19 Risk in Teens – Vaccinations are Safer
Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University researchers have demonstrated that the risk for myocarditis/pericarditis (heart inflammation) among male teens (12-17) diagnosed with COVID-19 is nearly 6 times higher than their combined risk following first and second doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. The risk for myocarditis/pericarditis among girls (ages 12-17) is 21 times greater from COVID-19 than from vaccines.

Released: 27-Jul-2021 9:45 AM EDT
Twitter Study Tracks Early Days of COVID-19 Pandemic in U.S.
Binghamton University, State University of New York

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York studied Twitter communications to understand the societal impact of COVID-19 in the United States during the early days of the pandemic.

Released: 27-Jul-2021 9:45 AM EDT
A First Report of COVID-19 Orbital Involvement Is Reported in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery
Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott

A severe skin infection in the orbital area (around the eye) may represent an unusual complication of COVID-19, according to a patient report published in The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.


Showing results

110 of 6076

close
1.49395