Detecting and Monitoring Viruses in Wastewater

In a recent news release, New York City indicated that they had detected the Poliovirus in its wastewater system.

This news story is a reminder of the role our community utilities can play in detecting and preventing the spread of infectious disease. The testing and detection of a virus in wastewater can provide insight on the extent to which it has circulated in a specific community. Monitoring virus levels in wastewater over time can provide public health officials with critical information about the rates of increase or decrease of such viruses in their community. New York recommends vaccination for Polio while continuing to address other reported virus concerns such as Monkeypox and COVID-19.

Indiana recently completed monitoring of wastewater for COVID-19 in 14 communities across the state. The IFA’s Report of Findings can be reviewed here: https://www.in.gov/ifa/files/Indiana-Wastewater-Monitoring-Report-2020.pdf  Beyond this study, infectious diseases are not generally routinely tested for in wastewater due to the large quantity of viruses in existence and the specific and careful methods needed to take and analyze samples to yield results.

Given the outcome of the above-noted study and continuing concerns over controlling these deadly diseases before they reach Epidemic or Pandemic levels, early wastewater testing may be in the future of epidemiology.

For more information, contact Commonwealth Engineers at cei@contactcei.com.