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Frontiers in Public Health




COVID-19, public health, RT-qPCR, SARS-CoV-2, wastewater


Wastewater surveillance has gained traction during the COVID-19 pandemic as an effective and non-biased means to track community infection. While most surveillance relies on samples collected at municipal wastewater treatment plants, surveillance is more actionable when samples are collected “upstream” where mitigation of transmission is tractable. This report describes the results of wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 at residence halls on a university campus aimed at preventing outbreak escalation by mitigating community spread. Another goal was to estimate fecal shedding rates of SARS-CoV-2 in a non-clinical setting. Passive sampling devices were deployed in sewer laterals originating from residence halls at a frequency of twice weekly during fall 2021 as the Delta variant of concern continued to circulate across North America. A positive detection as part of routine sampling in late November 2021 triggered daily monitoring and further isolated the signal to a single wing of one residence hall. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 within the wastewater over a period of 3 consecutive days led to a coordinated rapid antigen testing campaign targeting the residence hall occupants and the identification and isolation of infected individuals. With knowledge of the number of individuals testing positive for COVID-19, fecal shedding rates were estimated to range from 3.70 log10 gc ‧ g feces−1 to 5.94 log10 gc ‧ g feces−1. These results reinforce the efficacy of wastewater surveillance as an early indicator of infection in congregate living settings. Detections can trigger public health measures ranging from enhanced communications to targeted coordinated testing and quarantine.





Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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