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So many communities are testing poop for Covid-19, equipment is running out

Quartz – “As the Covid-19 pandemic continues on in the US, state and municipal groups are scrambling to find ways to track of new cases and potential outbreaks. One such method: scanning sewage for bits of the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself. As more cities try to implement wastewater-based epidemiology, they need to stock up on new gear—including autosamplers, the machines that collect tiny amounts of sewer water from a manhole so it can be analyzed. So many public and private research groups have placed orders for these devices, in fact, that the demand has led to shortages and shipping delays…

Why the big fuss over sewage monitoring? Wastewater-based epidemiology has the potential to be a cost-effective complement to clinical testing. Because individuals often shed bits of the virus in their fecal matter before they come down with Covid-19, it can be a way of tracking where outbreaks are about to happen. In a small enough community—like a university campus—public health officials have been able to see spikes in SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, test dorm residents, and isolate the few people who tested positive even when they weren’t showing symptoms. Boom—outbreak averted…”

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