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1.
Viruses ; 14(3)2022 03 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1742731

ABSTRACT

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) of SARS-CoV-2 has been used as a complementary indicator to follow up on the trends in the COVID-19 spread in Belgium and in many other countries. To further develop the use of WBE, a multiplex digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) assay was optimized, validated and applied for the measurement of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) in influent wastewater (IWW) samples. Key mutations were targeted in the different VOC strains, including SΔ69/70 deletion, N501Y, SΔ241 and SΔ157. The presented bioanalytical method was able to distinguish between SARS-CoV-2 RNA originating from the wild-type and B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and B.1.617.2 variants. The dPCR assay proved to be sensitive enough to detect low concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in IWW since the limit of detection of the different targets ranged between 0.3 and 2.9 copies/µL. This developed WBE approach was applied to IWW samples originating from different Belgian locations and was able to monitor spatio-temporal changes in the presence of targeted VOC strains in the investigated communities. The present dPCR assay developments were realized to bring added-value to the current national WBE of COVID-19 by also having the spatio-temporal proportions of the VoC in presence in the wastewaters.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction , Pandemics , RNA, Viral/analysis , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Waste Water
2.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-294504

ABSTRACT

Background SARS-CoV-2 human-to-animal transmission can lead to the establishment of novel reservoirs and the evolution of new variants with the potential to start new outbreaks in humans. Aim We tested Norway rats inhabiting the sewer system of Antwerp, Belgium, for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 following a local COVID-19 epidemic peak. In addition, we discuss the use and interpretation of SARS-CoV-2 serological tests on non-human samples. Methods Between November and December 2020, Norway rat oral swabs, feces and tissues from the sewer system of Antwerp were collected to be tested by RT-qPCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. Serum samples were screened for the presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies using a Luminex microsphere immunoassay (MIA). Samples considered positive were then checked for neutralizing antibodies using a conventional viral neutralization test (cVNT). Results The serum of 35 rats was tested by MIA showing 3 potentially positive sera that were later shown to be negative by cVNT. All tissue samples of 39 rats analyzed tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Conclusion This is the first study that evaluates SARS-CoV-2 infection in urban rats. We can conclude that the sample of 39 rats had never been infected with SARS-CoV-2. We show that diagnostic serology tests can give misleading results when applied on non-human samples. SARS-CoV-2 monitoring activities should continue due to the emergence of new variants prone to infect Muridae rodents.

3.
Transbound Emerg Dis ; 2021 Jul 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1295139

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 human-to-animal transmission can lead to the establishment of novel reservoirs and the evolution of new variants with the potential to start new outbreaks in humans. We tested Norway rats inhabiting the sewer system of Antwerp, Belgium, for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 following a local COVID-19 epidemic peak. In addition, we discuss the use and interpretation of SARS-CoV-2 serological tests on non-human samples. Between November and December 2020, Norway rat oral swabs, faeces and tissues from the sewer system of Antwerp were collected to be tested by RT-qPCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. Serum samples were screened for the presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies using a Luminex microsphere immunoassay (MIA). Samples considered positive were then checked for neutralizing antibodies using a conventional viral neutralization test (cVNT). The serum of 35 rats was tested by MIA showing three potentially positive sera that were later negative by cVNT. All tissue samples of 39 rats analysed tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. This is the first study that evaluates SARS-CoV-2 infection in urban rats. We can conclude that the sample of rats analysed had never been infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, monitoring activities should continue due to the emergence of new variants prone to infect Muridae rodents.

4.
Sci Total Environ ; 789: 148043, 2021 May 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1243225

ABSTRACT

Wastewater-based epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 could play a role in monitoring the spread of the virus in the population and controlling possible outbreaks. However, sensitive sample preparation and detection methods are necessary to detect trace levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in influent wastewater (IWW). Unlike predecessors, method optimization of a SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentration and detection procedure was performed with IWW samples with high viral SARS-CoV-2 RNA loads. This is of importance since the SARS-CoV-2 genome in IWW might have already been subject to in-sewer degradation into smaller genome fragments or might be present in a different form (e.g. cell debris, …). Centricon Plus-70 (100 kDa) centrifugal filter devices resulted in the lowest and most reproducible Ct-values for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Lowering the molecular weight cut-off did not improve our limit of detection and quantification (approximately 100 copies/µL for all genes). Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was employed for the amplification of the N1, N2, N3 and E-gene fragments. This is one of the first studies to apply digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in IWW. dPCR showed high variability at low concentration levels (100 copies/µL), indicating that variability in bioanalytical methods for wastewater-based epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 might be substantial. dPCR results in IWW were in line with the results found with qPCR. On average, the N2-gene fragment showed high in-sample stability in IWW for 10 days of storage at 4 °C. Between-sample variability was substantial due to the low native concentrations in IWW. Additionally, the E-gene fragment proved to be less stable compared to the N2-gene fragment and showed higher variability. Freezing the IWW samples resulted in a 10-fold decay of loads of the N2- and E-gene fragment in IWW.

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