Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
First published March 6, 2020 - updated May 18, 2020
The current spread of the new Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which causes the COVID-19 disease is of pressing public health concern. The University of Arizona WEST Center is able to assist communities by testing for incidence of the Coronavirus in sewage. Monitoring sewage can be used to evaluate if the virus is present in a community even if individuals are asymptomatic (i.e. show no visible symptoms). It can also quantify potential risk of infection to wastewater workers.
With advanced laboratory capabilities and expertise in Coronavirus research, WEST has initiated a monitoring program to allow Coronavirus sewage surveillance for any interested Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The WEST Center is ideally situated to provide sewage monitoring:
- Prior history of research on the SARS virus.
- Extensive expertise in the detection of human pathogenic viruses, wastewater treatment, biosolids and land application.
- Acquisition of appropriate positive control nucleic acid from the CDC.
- Co-location with a wastewater treatment plant.
Data provided through evaluations can be used to determine:
- When and if the new coronavirus enters a metropolitan area.
- The concentration that can be expected in the untreated wastewater and potential risk to wastewater treatment workers.
- Removal of the virus by the treatment process.
How to Apply for Sewage Surveillance
AS OF MAY 26, 2020, WEST CENTER IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING NEW WWTPS INTO THE SEWAGE SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM.