CDC Using Viral Particles From Feces to Track COVID


Feb. 4, 2022 — The CDC’s on-line COVID Data Tracker will now embrace data on COVID-19 particles current in group wastewater, one factor that may help detect viral surges as at-home assessments have left many cases unreported.

The National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) accommodates wastewater info from better than 400 testing web sites all through the nation. One of the earliest indicators of an an infection is shedding of the COVID-19 virus in feces, allowing federal officers to take care of observe of early tendencies on the group stage, said Amy Kirby, PhD, program lead for the surveillance system.

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“This is a very powerful method for tracking variants of concern,” she said at a Friday briefing. “It’s also very important as our testing strategy changed, and more people use at-home tests.”

The system has been throughout the works since September 2020, Kirby said, and now there could also be adequate info to share. In the following few weeks, she expects 250 further web sites to be added.

Wastewater is collected as a result of it flows proper right into a treatment plant. Researchers at native labs focus the virus from wastewater samples and extract genetic supplies for sequencing, Kirby said. That info is then despatched to the CDC.

This will be utilized in most U.S. communities — nearly 80% of households are served by municipal wastewater assortment strategies, in line with the CDC. Cities, and even some colleges, have been using wastewater testing for months to identify outbreaks.

“Unlike other types of COVID-19 surveillance, wastewater surveillance does not depend on people having access to health care, people seeking health care when sick, or availability of COVID-19 testing,” the CDC’s NWSS website says.

It’s a surveillance instrument that has been used for a few years to hint polio overseas. Now, the dashboard will allow any such info to go public, Kirby said.

And it has potential makes use of for various sicknesses.

“One of the strengths of wastewater surveillance is, it’s very flexible. Should there be a new pathogen of interest, we could ramp up this system within a few weeks,” Kirby said. “There is also an interest in using this for non-infectious diseases. We don’t see that being an immediate use, but it’s something we’re considering for down the road.”

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