Tracking COVID-19 through the sewers

Scientists are experimenting with tracing coronavirus outbreaks through municipal sewage.

Scientists on the east side of the state are experimenting with a gross, but potentially useful method of tracking COVID-19 outbreaks: Through the sewers.

Michigan State University is teaming up with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and the Great Lakes Water Authority for the project.

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The groups had already been collaborating to study whether viruses can be detected in untreated sewage, according to an article on MLive.

It turns out they can be, and now the group is expanding that testing to include COVID-19.

“Our approach has the potential to provide warnings earlier than traditional systems focused on clinical diagnostics – rapid or not – which are inherently limited to an after analysis of an outbreak,” said Dr. Irene Xagoraraki, an associate professor of civil and environment engineering at MSU.

The team, which began this project in April, will collect samples from Detroit’s wastewater and go through it looking for DNA from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

You can read more about the project here.

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