Wastewater Surveillance of Pathogens can Inform Public Health Responses

Wastewater Surveillance of Pathogens can Inform Public Health Responses

Published: Oct 01, 2022
Publisher: Nature Medicine, vol. 28, issue 10

Megan B. Diamond

Ana I. Bento

Otakuye Conroy-Ben

Erin M. Driver

Katherine B. Ensor

Rolf U. Halden

Loren P. Hopkins

Katrin G. Kuhn

Christine L. Moe

Eric C. Rouchka

Ted Smith

Bradley S. Stevenson

Zachary Susswein

Jason R. Vogel

Marlene K. Wolfe

Lauren B. Stadler

Samuel V. Scarpino

Since the late 1930s, scientists have known that infectious poliovirus was present in the sewage of cities experiencing outbreaks. As a result, wastewater surveillance has played an important part in the polio-eradication campaign. Building from the work on poliovirus, data from wastewater have complemented clinical surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering a comprehensive view of infection burden and transmission — both symptomatic and asymptomatic — and information on which SARS-CoV-2 variants are circulating in a community (including so-called cryptic variants that have never been detected in clinical samples. Yet despite the established value of wastewater surveillance for monitoring poliovirus and its emerging importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, most global public health surveillance systems still rely heavily on medically attended case data. This needs to change to enable effective pandemic preparedness and response.

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