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1.
J Public Health Manag Pract ; 2022 Oct 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2063102

ABSTRACT

Testing sewage (wastewater-based surveillance, or WBS) for pathogens is an increasingly important tool for monitoring the health of populations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some residential institutions including colleges, prisons, and skilled nursing facilities used facility-level wastewater data to inform their pandemic responses. To understand how these early adopters used WBS data in decision making, we conducted in-depth, semistructured interviews with multiple decision makers at 6 residential institutions in the United States (universities, prisons, and nursing homes) encompassing a total of more than 70 000 residents and staff about interpretation, uses, and limitations of these data. We found that WBS data were used in extremely diverse ways. WBS combined with clinical surveillance informed a wide range of public health actions at residential institutions, including transmission reduction measures, public health communications, and allocation of resources. WBS also served other institutional purposes, such as maintaining relationships with external stakeholders and helping alleviate decision makers' pervasive stress. Recognizing these diverse ways of using WBS data can inform expansion of this practice among institutions as well as development of community-scale systems.

2.
Environ Sci (Camb) ; 8(4): 757-770, 2022 Mar 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1721604

ABSTRACT

Wastewater-based epidemiology has gained attention throughout the world for detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater to supplement clinical testing. Raw wastewater consists of small particles, or solids, suspended in liquid. Methods have been developed to measure SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the liquid and the solid fraction of wastewater, with some studies reporting higher concentrations in the solid fraction. To investigate this relationship further, six laboratories collaborated to conduct a study across five publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) where both primary settled solids obtained from primary clarifiers and raw wastewater influent samples were collected and quantified for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Settled solids and influent samples were processed by participating laboratories using their respective methods and retrospectively paired based on date of collection. SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations, on a mass equivalent basis, were higher in settled solids than in influent by approximately three orders of magnitude. Concentrations in matched settled solids and influent were positively and significantly correlated at all five POTWs. RNA concentrations in both settled solids and influent were correlated to COVID-19 incidence rates in the sewersheds and thus representative of disease occurrence; the settled solids methods appeared to produce a comparable relationship between SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentration measurements and incidence rates across all POTWs. Settled solids and influent methods showed comparable sensitivity, N gene detection frequency, and calculated empirical incidence rate lower limits. Analysis of settled solids for SARS-CoV-2 RNA has the advantage of using less sample volume to achieve similar sensitivity to influent methods.

3.
PLoS One ; 16(11): e0258263, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1700786

ABSTRACT

Clinical and surveillance testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus relies overwhelmingly on RT-qPCR-based diagnostics, yet several popular assays require 2-3 separate reactions or rely on detection of a single viral target, which adds significant time, cost, and risk of false-negative results. Furthermore, multiplexed RT-qPCR tests that detect at least two SARS-CoV-2 genes in a single reaction are typically not affordable for large scale clinical surveillance or adaptable to multiple PCR machines and plate layouts. We developed a RT-qPCR assay using the Luna Probe Universal One-Step RT-qPCR master mix with publicly available primers and probes to detect SARS-CoV-2 N gene, E gene, and human RNase P (LuNER) to address these shortcomings and meet the testing demands of a university campus and the local community. This cost-effective test is compatible with BioRad or Applied Biosystems qPCR machines, in 96 and 384-well formats, with or without sample pooling, and has a detection sensitivity suitable for both clinical reporting and wastewater surveillance efforts.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Ribonuclease P/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Waste Water/virology , DNA Primers/genetics , Humans , RNA, Viral/genetics , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , Sensitivity and Specificity , Specimen Handling/methods , Wastewater-Based Epidemiological Monitoring
5.
Water Res X ; 12: 100111, 2021 Aug 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1331293

ABSTRACT

Wastewater surveillance for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA can be integrated with COVID-19 case data to inform timely pandemic response. However, more research is needed to apply and develop systematic methods to interpret the true SARS-CoV-2 signal from noise introduced in wastewater samples (e.g., from sewer conditions, sampling and extraction methods, etc.). In this study, raw wastewater was collected weekly from five sewersheds and one residential facility. The concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater samples were compared to geocoded COVID-19 clinical testing data. SARS-CoV-2 was reliably detected (95% positivity) in frozen wastewater samples when reported daily new COVID-19 cases were 2.4 or more per 100,000 people. To adjust for variation in sample fecal content, four normalization biomarkers were evaluated: crAssphage, pepper mild mottle virus, Bacteroides ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and human 18S rRNA. Of these, crAssphage displayed the least spatial and temporal variability. Both unnormalized SARS-CoV-2 RNA signal and signal normalized to crAssphage had positive and significant correlation with clinical testing data (Kendall's Tau-b (τ)=0.43 and 0.38, respectively), but no normalization biomarker strengthened the correlation with clinical testing data. Locational dependencies and the date associated with testing data impacted the lead time of wastewater for clinical trends, and no lead time was observed when the sample collection date (versus the result date) was used for both wastewater and clinical testing data. This study supports that trends in wastewater surveillance data reflect trends in COVID-19 disease occurrence and presents tools that could be applied to make wastewater signal more interpretable and comparable across studies.

6.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(9)2021 04 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1202406

ABSTRACT

Wastewater surveillance for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an emerging approach to help identify the risk of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. This tool can contribute to public health surveillance at both community (wastewater treatment system) and institutional (e.g., colleges, prisons, and nursing homes) scales. This paper explores the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from initial wastewater surveillance efforts at colleges and university systems to inform future research, development and implementation. We present the experiences of 25 college and university systems in the United States that monitored campus wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 during the fall 2020 academic period. We describe the broad range of approaches, findings, resources, and impacts from these initial efforts. These institutions range in size, social and political geographies, and include both public and private institutions. Our analysis suggests that wastewater monitoring at colleges requires consideration of local information needs, sewage infrastructure, resources for sampling and analysis, college and community dynamics, approaches to interpretation and communication of results, and follow-up actions. Most colleges reported that a learning process of experimentation, evaluation, and adaptation was key to progress. This process requires ongoing collaboration among diverse stakeholders including decision-makers, researchers, faculty, facilities staff, students, and community members.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Public Health Surveillance , Universities , Waste Water
7.
Environ Sci Technol ; 55(8): 4880-4888, 2021 04 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1147821

ABSTRACT

Wastewater-based epidemiology is an emerging tool to monitor COVID-19 infection levels by measuring the concentration of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA in wastewater. There remains a need to improve wastewater RNA extraction methods' sensitivity, speed, and reduce reliance on often expensive commercial reagents to make wastewater-based epidemiology more accessible. We present a kit-free wastewater RNA extraction method, titled "Sewage, Salt, Silica and SARS-CoV-2" (4S), that employs the abundant and affordable reagents sodium chloride (NaCl), ethanol, and silica RNA capture matrices to recover sixfold more SARS-CoV-2 RNA from wastewater than an existing ultrafiltration-based method. The 4S method concurrently recovered pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV) and human 18S ribosomal subunit rRNA, which have been proposed as fecal concentration controls. The SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations measured in three sewersheds corresponded to the relative prevalence of COVID-19 infection determined via clinical testing. Lastly, controlled experiments indicate that the 4S method prevented RNA degradation during storage of wastewater samples, was compatible with heat pasteurization, and in our experience, 20 samples can be processed by one lab technician in approximately 2 h. Overall, the 4S method is promising for effective, economical, and accessible wastewater-based epidemiology for SARS-CoV-2, providing another tool to fight the global pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , RNA, Viral/genetics , Sewage , Silicon Dioxide , Sodium Chloride , Waste Water
8.
Environ Sci Technol ; 55(6): 3514-3519, 2021 03 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1114678

ABSTRACT

Wastewater-based epidemiology is an emerging tool for tracking the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through populations. However, many factors influence recovery and quantification of SARS-CoV-2 from wastewater, complicating data interpretation. Specifically, these factors may differentially affect the measured virus concentration, depending on the laboratory methods used to perform the test. Many laboratories add a proxy virus to wastewater samples to determine losses associated with concentration and extraction of viral RNA. While measuring recovery of a proxy virus is an important process control, in this piece, we describe the caveats and limitations to the interpretation of this control, including that it typically does not account for losses during RNA extraction. We recommend reporting the directly measured concentration data alongside the measured recovery efficiency, rather than attempting to correct the concentration for recovery efficiency. Even though the ability to directly compare SARS-CoV-2 concentrations from different sampling locations determined using different methods is limited, concentration data (uncorrected for recovery) can be useful for public health response.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Viruses , Humans , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2 , Waste Water
9.
mBio ; 12(1)2021 01 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1066817

ABSTRACT

Viral genome sequencing has guided our understanding of the spread and extent of genetic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 viral genomes are usually sequenced from nasopharyngeal swabs of individual patients to track viral spread. Recently, RT-qPCR of municipal wastewater has been used to quantify the abundance of SARS-CoV-2 in several regions globally. However, metatranscriptomic sequencing of wastewater can be used to profile the viral genetic diversity across infected communities. Here, we sequenced RNA directly from sewage collected by municipal utility districts in the San Francisco Bay Area to generate complete and nearly complete SARS-CoV-2 genomes. The major consensus SARS-CoV-2 genotypes detected in the sewage were identical to clinical genomes from the region. Using a pipeline for single nucleotide variant calling in a metagenomic context, we characterized minor SARS-CoV-2 alleles in the wastewater and detected viral genotypes which were also found within clinical genomes throughout California. Observed wastewater variants were more similar to local California patient-derived genotypes than they were to those from other regions within the United States or globally. Additional variants detected in wastewater have only been identified in genomes from patients sampled outside California, indicating that wastewater sequencing can provide evidence for recent introductions of viral lineages before they are detected by local clinical sequencing. These results demonstrate that epidemiological surveillance through wastewater sequencing can aid in tracking exact viral strains in an epidemic context.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Sewage/virology , Base Sequence , COVID-19/epidemiology , California/epidemiology , Environmental Microbiology , Genome, Viral , Genotype , Humans , Metagenome , Metagenomics , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide , RNA, Viral/genetics , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Transcriptome
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