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Sci Total Environ ; 814: 151947, 2022 Mar 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1531805


Wastewater surveillance has been used as a tool for COVID-19 outbreak detection particularly where there was not capability in place for routine and robust individual testing. Given clinical reports that earlier detection is possible following infection from throat/nasal samples compared to fecal samples for COVID-19 patients, the utility of wastewater testing where robust individual testing is possible is less clear. The objective of this study was to compare the results of weekly required COVID-19 saliva tests to weekly wastewater monitoring for residential buildings (i.e., dormitories) located across three college campuses capturing wastewater from 80 to 441 occupants per sampling location. Sampling occurred during the spring semester of the 2021 academic year which captured the third wave of SARS-CoV-2 cases in the study region. Comparison of the saliva and wastewater testing results indicated that the wastewater SARS-CoV-2 concentrations had a strong linear correlation with the previous week's percentage of positive saliva test results and a weak linear correlation with the saliva testing results surrounding the wastewater sampling (four days before and 3 days after). Given that no correlation was observed between the wastewater and the saliva testing from the following week, the weekly saliva testing captured spikes in COVID-19 cases earlier than the weekly wastewater sampling. Interestingly, the N1 gene was observed in buildings on all campuses, but N2 was observed in wastewater on only one of the campuses. N1 and N2 were also observed in sewer biofilm. The campus-specific challenges associated with implementation of wastewater surveillance are discussed. Overall, these results can help inform design of surveillance for early detection of SARS-CoV-2 in residential settings thereby informing mitigation strategies to slow or prevent the spread of the virus among residents in congregate living.

COVID-19 , Sewage , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Saliva , Wastewater , Wastewater-Based Epidemiological Monitoring