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Home / Health / Testing of COVID-19 in SF sewage – San Francisco inspector

Testing of COVID-19 in SF sewage – San Francisco inspector



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When people think of the words “COVID-19” and “test”, the image that comes to mind is usually a long nasal swab, which people wave with a full set of personal protective equipment. Testing on individuals has always been the main way to track the spread of diseases in San Francisco, but this is not the only method available. Testing sewage (natural waste from our flushing toilets and showers or sewers) is another strategy that can usually determine the spread of the disease faster than the arduous testing of individual city residents.

Since April, the University of California, Berkeley has been studying wastewater samples from 11 areas around the Bay Area, including San Francisco. This project is accelerating; although it can currently test 30 samples per week, the team expects to add 200 samples per week by the end of the year.

In San Francisco, samples are being collected from a wastewater treatment plant, several communities and a residential care facility. The data detected by UC Berkeley may be crucial for the local health department to track the sudden increase in transmission.

“From the very beginning of the pandemic, it has been obvious that the ability to test everyone in the population frequently enough to find out if they are infected is significantly limited,” Kara Nelson, professor of civil and environmental engineering Said at the University of California, Berkeley. “Wastewater naturally collects the waste in a sample into millions to millions of people, so if you can collect a representative sample of wastewater and analyze it, you can get a lot of information, and this information may be passed by the tester And unavailable individual land.”

However, identifying the traces of COVID-19 is very tricky: detecting the virus in wastewater samples is definitely more troublesome than finding in nasal swabs. On the one hand, wastewater includes more than sewage. Add bleach as a disinfectant to control the odor. When the odor passes through the sewer, the odor will decompose and kill the COVID-19 virus.

Will Reismann, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, explained: “The research community has not found evidence of the survival of the COVID-19 virus in wastewater systems.” “In essence, the virus will die, but there will still be RNA residues in wastewater samples (Gene copy).”

The wastewater also contains many other viruses, so it is difficult to separate the COVID-19 molecules in the sample. Similarly, people excrete different amounts of COVID-19 particles in their feces, which complicates research on the prevalence of the virus in certain areas.

The University of California, Berkeley has found some solutions to these problems. The answer lies in what we all have at home: table salt. Nelson’s team worked with the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and discovered that salt can cut through the outer layer of a virus, allowing the salt to spill all of its genetic material into a collectible sample. The salt also has the added benefit of capturing some virus particles that may be partially broken down and storing them for testing.

It proved to be a very successful system. It is not only fast (the result can be determined within eight hours), but also highly sensitive. It can detect whether a small number of people have released the virus in the wastewater sample, which contains the substance of thousands of people.

This is not the first study of feces in San Francisco.

Reismann said: “SFPUC has been testing our wastewater to ensure the chemical and biological parameters of public health.” “We regularly collaborate with research groups to help advance the science of wastewater treatment.”

But this is the first time the stakes are so high. By the way, this model can be used to test specific areas (such as nursing homes or communities with a low number of individual tests) and early outbreaks.

Nielsen said: “One of the biggest bottlenecks in wastewater testing is testing capabilities.” “This pop-up laboratory is the first high-throughput laboratory in the Bay Area, capable of bringing in a large number of samples and quickly providing results to public health officials.”

The University of California, Berkeley has been providing its research data to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, but so far, New York City has not used it or released it to the public.

The department said: “Although wastewater testing is not currently part of our infectious disease surveillance, it may be in the future.” “In determining how to best collect and use this data, we look forward to working with researchers and other municipal government agencies. .”

Have ideas for hints or stories? Email me nuala.bishari@gmail.com.

Bay Area News San Francisco Coronavirus News

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