Standing

Undergraduate

Type of Proposal

Oral Research Presentation

Faculty

Faculty of Science

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Robert Michael McKay

Abstract/Description of Original Work

Background: SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, is an enveloped virus that targets the respiratory tract and is shed in the feces of infected individuals. Quantification of viral material excreted into the sewershed and collected at municipal wastewater treatment plants can act as an accurate measure of community infection rates and provide a warning of an increase in community spread before clinical testing. However, wastewater surveillance is more effective when samples are collected “upstream” of wastewater treatment facilities where action can be taken to mitigate transmission. Wastewater surveillance at University of Windsor residence halls has prevented SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks.

Methods: Moore swabs (passive sampling devices that collect wastewater through filtration or absorption) were deployed in sewer laterals originating from residence halls for 24-hours on a twice weekly basis. Wastewater extruded from passive samplers was processed through a 0.22µm cartridge filter to concentrate particle-associated virus and RNA was extracted from the filters. Reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) was used to measure the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within wastewater.

Purpose: This project aimed to identify SARS-CoV-2 infections within the residence halls at the University of Windsor and prevent outbreak escalation by mitigating community spread. Another goal is to estimate of fecal shedding rates of the Delta Variant of Concern of SARS-CoV-2 in a non-clinical setting.

Results: A positive result in a routine twice weekly sample at a campus residence hall triggered higher frequency monitoring and the isolation of signal to a single wing of a residence hall. Persistent positive results within the wastewater led to a request for voluntary rapid antigen testing and the isolation of infected individuals preventing further transmission.

Conclusion: Wastewater surveillance remains a useful early indicator of infection in congregate living settings. Detections can trigger enhanced public health measures including messaging to encourage testing, masking, and distancing.

Availability

March 30: 12-3pm, April 1: 12-2pm

Special Considerations

Presenters:

Abdul Monem Al Riahi

Amr Labak

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Preventing an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 on campus using wastewater surveillance

Background: SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, is an enveloped virus that targets the respiratory tract and is shed in the feces of infected individuals. Quantification of viral material excreted into the sewershed and collected at municipal wastewater treatment plants can act as an accurate measure of community infection rates and provide a warning of an increase in community spread before clinical testing. However, wastewater surveillance is more effective when samples are collected “upstream” of wastewater treatment facilities where action can be taken to mitigate transmission. Wastewater surveillance at University of Windsor residence halls has prevented SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks.

Methods: Moore swabs (passive sampling devices that collect wastewater through filtration or absorption) were deployed in sewer laterals originating from residence halls for 24-hours on a twice weekly basis. Wastewater extruded from passive samplers was processed through a 0.22µm cartridge filter to concentrate particle-associated virus and RNA was extracted from the filters. Reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) was used to measure the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within wastewater.

Purpose: This project aimed to identify SARS-CoV-2 infections within the residence halls at the University of Windsor and prevent outbreak escalation by mitigating community spread. Another goal is to estimate of fecal shedding rates of the Delta Variant of Concern of SARS-CoV-2 in a non-clinical setting.

Results: A positive result in a routine twice weekly sample at a campus residence hall triggered higher frequency monitoring and the isolation of signal to a single wing of a residence hall. Persistent positive results within the wastewater led to a request for voluntary rapid antigen testing and the isolation of infected individuals preventing further transmission.

Conclusion: Wastewater surveillance remains a useful early indicator of infection in congregate living settings. Detections can trigger enhanced public health measures including messaging to encourage testing, masking, and distancing.