Each week since August, a team of LSU researchers suit up in protective gear as they collect and inspect wastewater samples beneath campus living halls with the hopes of spotting microscopic coronavirus samples that could indicate a potential outbreak.
With less than a quarter-cup of liquid that looks like dirty water, they’ve at times detected thousands of viral particles people shed when they go to the bathroom around campus, as well as broader testing in parts of Baton Rouge.
It’s a time-consuming process, often taking at least two days to deliver results. But it has provided an early alert and greater ability to find and isolate people before they spread the virus to others.
“Some people don't have symptoms, and some people just don't go to the doctor, and when they get tested it's a week later," said Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor John Pardue, who is collaborating with the school of veterinary medicine to sample wastewater. "It's helping the state and city understand the virus."