Is there a connection between COVID-19 outbreaks and your sewer water?
Even though a COVID-19 vaccine was just approved on Saturday, Deceember12, 2020 mass distribution to the general public won’t likely occur until the spring of 2021 and COVID-19 virus infections and death totals continue to rise. The State of North Carolina is currently under a stay at home curfew from 10:00 pm until 5:00 am. The Center for Disease Control continues to research not only how to limit the spread of the virus but also key indicators as to where a flare up may be imminent. In a recent article on the CDC website entitled, For COVID-19 Clues, Researchers Look to the Sewer, the question addressing the relationship between your sewer water and COVID-19 outbreaks was investigated.
In this article, CDC microbiologist Amy Kirby and Environmental Engineer Mia Mattioli discovered that the COVID-19 virus could be detected in contaminated water and by testing sewer water, and the amount of virus detected in the water was an indicator of whether an outbreak was likely in the community where the water was tested.
'When people get infected with COVID-19, pieces of the virus can be found in feces. So when researchers like Mia and Amy find those bits of virus in sewer water, “we know there’s somebody in that community who has COVID-19,” Mia says.
By taking many samples over time, they can watch whether the amount of virus in those samples is going up or down. That might tell local health departments whether an outbreak is getting better or worse—or provide an extra insight when other data are murky.
“The trends in the sewage concentration have been shown to be a leading indicator in numbers of cases,” Mia says. “When the number of COVID-19-positive samples in sewage go up, 3 to 7 days later, the number of reported cases go up.”'
The compelling extrapolation that can be deduced from this article is that cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms and proper hand washing is essential to limit the spread of the virus. This is especially important as the holiday shopping season is in full swing; businesses must be proactive in cleaning and patrons must be extra vigilant as they wash their hands after using the rest room and should not assume that the person that went before them used proper hygiene. Therefore they should use a paper towel to open the door to exit or find an alternative to open the door without using their hands. Safety must be always practiced in order to keep both us and everyone in our community safe.