As part of a coordinated effort by UArizona to keep faculty, staff, and students safe and healthy on campus in Fall 2020, the Water and Energy Sustainable Technology Center (WEST) is testing wastewater at several locations to monitor for the novel coronavirus.
Demonstrating the impact of this surveillance, the University of Arizona was able to stop the spread of COVID-19 in its tracks during the first week of on-campus classes. On Aug. 25, WEST Center staff sampled wastewater from several dorms at UArizona. By that evening, analysis showed the presence of the virus at one location. Additional testing on Aug. 26 confirmed the results, and by early Aug. 26, antigen and PCR tests began at the dorm to identify infected individuals.
Two asymptomatic students tested positive for COVID-19 by the antigen test, and another tested positive by PCR test (these results were returned a couple days later). The three students were removed from the residence hall to stop the spread of the coronavirus. These students will continue their classes online until their health is assured and they test negative for COVID-19 and can safely return to the residence hall. Wastewater from the dorm was tested again on Aug. 27 and Aug. 28, and no coronavirus was found remaining in the system.
The usefulness of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been increasingly recognized during the recent pandemic. In the case of UArizona, monitoring wastewater is becoming a standard of practice to keep doors open, students learning, and the community well.
The remarkable save during the first week of classes at UArizona made headlines:
University Of Arizona Prevented Coronavirus Outbreak On Campus By Testing Wastewater (Huff Post, 8/27/20)
University of Arizona wastewater testing finds virus at dorm, prevents outbreak (Arizona Republic, 8/27/20)
Wastewater helps find positive COVID-19 cases at UA dorm (KOLD News 13, 8/27/20)
The University of Arizona says it caught a dorm’s covid-19 outbreak before it started. Its secret weapon: Poop. (The Washington Post, 8/28/20)
COVID-19 wastewater testing saves 'precious' time in outbreak prevention, researcher says (Arizona Public Media, 8/28/20)
UA wastewater testing finds COVID-19 cases in dorm (Arizona Daily Star, 8/28/20)
Poop tests stop COVID-19 outbreak at University of Arizona (Science Magazine, 8/28/20)
Poop becomes secret weapon to detect COVID-19 cases in dorm, says University of Arizona (The National Post, Canada, 8/29/20)
The University of Arizona Is Testing Sewage from Dorms to Prevent Coronavirus Outbreaks (People Magazine, 8/28/20)
University of Arizona catches asymptomatic coronavirus cases through wastewater testing (Cleveland.com, 8/28/20)
Univ. Of Arizona Prevents Campus COVID Outbreak By Testing Wastewater (Scary Mommy, 8/28/20)
Scientists at University of Arizona Say They Prevented COVID-19 Outbreak by Testing Students' Poop (International Business Times, 8/29/20)
University of Arizona screening for COVID-19 via dorms' raw sewage (New York Post, 8/29/20)
Campus reentry update: Task force discusses early detection of potential outbreak in Likins dorm (Arizona Daily Wildcat, 8/29/20)
Fecal Analysis in Wastewater Helped Stop the Spread of COVID-19 at the University of Arizona (The Science Times, 8/29/20)
University of Arizona says it prevented COVID-19 outbreak by testing students' FECES (Brinkwire, 8/29/20)
Feces, wastewater tests prevent corona outbreak in U of Arizona dorms (The Jerusalem Post, 8/30/20)
Dorm wastewater helps University of Arizona prevent COVID-19 spread (KTAR-Radio, 8/31/20)
How the University of Arizona detected a campus outbreak before it even happened (ZME Science, 8/31/20)