COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Program
The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) in partnership with UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, is embarking on an exciting new study funded by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, to determine whether, and to what extent, the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus causing COVID-19) is circulating within communities in Wisconsin. We propose to accomplish this by routinely monitoring the amount of genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 present in wastewater.
SARS-CoV-2 is shed from humans in several ways, including the fecal matter. Many people infected by the virus have very mild or no symptoms, which makes them less likely to be tested in a clinical setting and identified as possible carriers of COVID-19. Sanitary sewer systems collect and aggregate wastewater to a central location, so that by the time it reaches the wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) it is a well-mixed sample of many households and businesses; thus by sampling the influent at the WWTF a representative snapshot of the whole community served by WWTF can be obtained. This approach will not replace existing public health monitoring systems, but will supplement them.
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