Water Sector News & Trends

Campus Clues to COVID-19: Sewage testing key to detecting early infections

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/11/campus-covid-19-sewage-testing-early-infections/

Scientists at dozens of colleges and universities around the country are hoping early detection of COVID-19 infections can come from a not-so-glamorous sampling process.

With collection devices set up in campus sewer systems, researchers are sampling waste from residence halls and other buildings for evidence of the virus. It shows up in human waste before said humans show physical signs of illness or infection.

Some schools are sampling in the communities where they are located, including Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

“We would potentially pick up virus in the pump station that services the neighborhood that includes the NMU campus,” said Josh Sharp, associate professor of biology at NMU. “We would then have justification to launch more detailed sampling of buildings on campus.  With a small staff we wanted to have evidence that a labor-intensive testing on campus would be needed first.”