Health Professionals Call for National Wastewater Testing for Viruses and Bacteria
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine outlined a vision for a national wastewater monitoring system to detect pathogens. This strategy, known as wastewater surveillance, has been used in the past to track the spread of polio. The US first used waste water surveillance on a large scale during the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts were largely a collection of local teams sponsored by local governments and organizations. In Fall of 2020, the CDC and government partners integrated these independent monitoring systems, to create the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS). This network helped health officials track the prevalence and spread of COVID-19. Although the NWSS includes over 1,250 sampling sites encompassing more than a third of the country’s population, the system lacked coverage in many areas, especially in the South and West. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s report lays out a plan to expand the NWSS and ensure it represents all regions and rural areas. This endeavor requires dedicated annual funding. Existing wastewater surveillance systems were made possible largely because of emergency pandemic funds, which have dried up. Experts assert this system is a key part of our ability to detect and stop future threats from antibiotic resistant bacteria and emerging diseases, as well as flu and COVID-19 variants.
Full Story: New York Times