Michigan State University leads global COVID-19 wastewater monitoring effort

Newswise – EAST LANSING, Michigan – As public health leaders around the world scramble to contain the delta variant of COVID-19, researchers at Michigan State University know what can provide early signs of the virus and help make critical decisions – wastewater.

MSU helps develop the Wastewater SARS Public Health Environmental Response, or W-SPHERE, a global public health data and use case center on SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. This online data repository and global map are now accessible and shared worldwide.

W-SPHERE is part of the Global Water Pathogens Project, or GWPP, a resource on pathogens promoting sanitation and drinking water and promoting quantitative information through wastewater, faecal sludge and freshwater monitoring to inform public health measures.

MSU Jeanne Rose, one of GWPP’s project managers, also leads W-SPHERE in collaboration with the University of California Merced, the KWR Water Research Institute and Ventthic Technologies. W-SPHERE is being developed as part of a larger wastewater monitoring project led by PATH, a non-profit global health organization.

“We know that shortly after becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, people with symptoms and those who do not, excrete the virus in their stool which ends up in the sewage,” said Rose, MSU Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research, and Professor in the Departments of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.

“This is why wastewater provides a real-time view of trends in community infection, earlier than other surveillance systems,” Rose said. “This can be of great benefit to society, as public health officials can be overwhelmed when monitoring individuals for good data to support immunization strategies, implementation of safety measures and enforcement. political decisions, for example on the operation of schools and other businesses. “

W-SPHERE’s interdisciplinary team of environmental virologists and public health specialists, along with engineering professionals present global data visualized on dynamic maps on a global and national scale with options to zoom to level regional to a spatial level, protecting the anonymity of the facility and allowing examination of spatial and temporal trends of SARS-CoV-2.

Currently, more than 2,691 cities and counties around the world, scientists and public services are wastewater monitoring for SARS-CoV-2, or have announced that they will be setting up for surveillance soon. The goal is to continue to develop the W-SPHERE by adding more public databases over the next 6 months.

MSU’s W-SPHERE research team includes Nishita D’Souza and Andri Rachmadi, both post-doctoral research associates at Rose’s Water Quality, Environmental and Molecular Microbiology Laboratory.

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