Campus and Community

The impact of epidemiological wastewater surveillance

Scott Meschke, microbiologist and professor at University of Washington, gave a lecture organised by the American Corner@IST.

The American Corner@IST, in collaboration with LAIST, organised an online lecture, via Zoom, last Friday, July 9. Scott Meschke, microbiologist and professor at University of Washington, was the invited speaker.

The lecture was moderated by Joan B. Rose, professor at Michigan State University, expert in water microbiology, water quality and public health safety, and the 2016 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate.

Professor Scott Meschke presented some of the work carried out in wastewater surveillance for poliomyelitis (polio), typhoid fever and now SARS-CoV-2.

“Wastewater surveillance can be used as a large sample of the population. So, we are using it as a means to try to understand the circulation of the disease in a community that may not be evident through clinical detection, or may give us additional information to what is provided by clinical surveillance”, he said.

The microbiologist highlighted the environmental surveillance as an important tool for the health authorities, namely: early detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus in a community and its recurrence; tracking SARS-CoV-2 elimination in a population and mapping the endemicity and seasonality; characterization of prevalence; and monitoring of viral evolution.