Researchers from multiple countries looked at sewage samples collected from 2018 through early 2020, with findings that may interest microbiologists and medical laboratory scientists.
Clinical laboratory tests for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can identify COVID-19 cases in individuals. But in multiple countries, researchers have tested untreated sewage for remnants of the pathogen, and some scientists have arrived at a surprising but unconfirmed theory—that the coronavirus appeared in Europe long before the first reported cases in Wuhan, China.
In an article for The Conversation, titled, “Coronavirus: Wastewater Can Tell Us Where the Next Outbreak Will Be,” Davey Jones, PhD, Professorial Chair of Soil and Environmental Science at Bangor University in the UK, wrote, “For the past three months, we have been using a test called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to find traces of SARS-CoV-2 in untreated wastewater. We believe this could form a valuable part of disease surveillance. Most UK towns and cities are served by just one or two wastewater treatment works, so a single sample—about a liter of water—can provide information on millions of people.”