Report outlines national plan to test wastewater for harmful germs

Report outlines national plan to test wastewater for harmful germs

The pandemic has brought wastewater testing utility to the forefront to gauge the spread of the virus.

Now, experts at the independent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) have come up with a report map out a roadmap for the broader monitor of the Americans wastewater.

The report “reviews the usefulness of community-level wastewater monitoring during the pandemic and assesses its potential value for the control and prevention of infectious diseases beyond COVID-19,” NAS said on its website. website.

As NAS explained, people naturally shed the DNA of viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens in their feces, which of course end up in the local sewage system.

Thus, wastewater testing and monitoring efforts “could be used to determine the extent to which pathogens are changing or to identify new variants emerging in the community,” the NAS said in a report. . New information posted accompanying the report.

Such monitoring—particularly the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS), established by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2020—is ultimately crucial for tracking the spread of the virus. spread of SARS-CoV-2.

According to the new report, “As of October 2022, the NWSS includes more than 1,250 sampling sites, including a population of more than 133 million individuals.”

NAS notes: “Wastewater monitoring data has proven useful during a pandemic to inform public health action, such as clinical and public health resource allocation, and will remain important data source in the response to the virus”. “As home COVID-19 testing increases, individual reports of cases decrease, underscoring the importance of other tools such as wastewater monitoring to track new variants and the spread of the virus. they.”

In addition to tracking SARS-CoV-2, the NWSS is also instrumental in tracking the birth and spread of poliovirus and mPOX (formerly known as chickenpox) in the United States.

All of this monitoring is done infrequently, on an as-needed basis. The new NAS report supports a more coordinated, long-range surveillance plan to detect and track the spread of future outbreaks.

However, any such effort would require an educated and compliant public.

“Hopefully, the success of the national wastewater monitoring program for infectious diseases lean on the building Public trust in the system, especially where ‘monitoring’ may be such a charged term in some communities,” said Palmer guy, Professor of Pathology and Infectious Diseases at Washington State University and chair of the report writing committee.

“Investing in this national system is important to strengthen public healthbut sustaining that investment requires clearly communicating how wastewater monitoring benefits our communities while addressing privacy concerns,” added Palmer.

Guidelines need to be developed on the ethical use of data collected from wastewater monitoring, which may produce traces of other substances, including illegal drugs. Therefore, it is advisable to have “a strong firewall to prevent the use of data by law enforcement,” the NAS notes.

Ideally, an optimally effective wastewater monitoring program would be able to “monitor multiple pathogens simultaneously” and “pivot around quickly to detect emerging pathogens,” the NAS said. It will also build equity within its framework, ensuring that all types of communities across the country benefit.

Of course, some “hot spots” of disease transmission can be prioritized. The NAS explains: “Specific ‘key’ locations should be incorporated, such as major international airports or zoos, to track specific emerging pathogens at their entry points.

And while much of NWSS’s pandemic surveillance is done by volunteers, any long-term, expansive national program will need a trained workforce and pay wage.

Currently, CDC has established two Centers of Excellence focused on wastewater monitoring, to help advance research and training.

The new one report Funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

More information:
Learn more about wastewater monitoring at CDC.

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quote: Report outlining national plan to test for harmful germs in wastewater (2023, 20 January) accessed 21 January 2023 from outlines-national-wastewater-germs.html

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