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Sewage Shows America Awash With COVID-19

Sewage testing can show the virus is circulating even before people start getting sick

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THURSDAY, Oct. 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Samples taken from sewage water across the country show that COVID-19 is widespread, CNN reported Wednesday.

Rosa Inchausti and her colleagues have been testing wastewater in Tempe, Arizona, since 2018 looking for traces of opioids. But now they are looking for COVID-19. And things are not looking good in Tempe, Boston, Reno (Nevada), or in many other cities. Things could also get a whole lot worse. "It's a leading indicator," Inchausti told CNN. "The proof is in the poop."

Mariana Matus, cofounder and CEO of Biobot Analytics, which analyzes sewage for many customers, told CNN that sewage testing can show the virus is circulating even before people start getting sick. "People start shedding virus pretty quickly after they are infected and before they start showing symptoms," Matus said.

In Boston, there was a spike in viral samples in April and May, lessening through the summer. Now the virus is showing up again, at levels near to what was seen at the height of the pandemic, CNN reported.

"We are seeing an upturn in the wastewater data, which I think broadly matches what we are seeing across the country," Matus told CNN. "It's been interesting seeing this almost second wave. I think that it is pretty good evidence that we need to pay attention. Communities need to pay attention."

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