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article imageTracking the virus: Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in human stools

By Tim Sandle     Jul 1, 2020 in Science
Working out where the coronavirus has occurred and where it is currently most prevalent is an area of important healthcare epidemiology and necessary to drive public policy. Human waste represents one area of assessment.
Providing a detailed review of the state of things regarding wastewater sampling for SARS-CoV-2 is a research paper titled “Detection and Survival of SARS-coronavirus in Human Stool, Urine, Wastewater and Sludge“. The outbreaks and cases of viral infections and the COVID-19 disease continue to rise and it is important that scientists have an array of tools through which the coronavirus can be tracked. One way to achieve this is through taking samples of wastewater, in relation to the treatment of human excreta, and tracking signs of the virus in relation to a specific locale.
August image of the Hogansburg dam site. Decommissioning well under way.
August image of the Hogansburg dam site. Decommissioning well under way.
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe
This article considers three questions:
What is the evidence for SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 detection in human stool or urine?
What is the evidence for SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 detection in wastewater?
What is the evidence for infectious SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 in stool, urine or wastewater?
To examine these questions, scientists undertook examinations for the infectious virus, as derived from fecal and urine specimens. Test method for this is based on viral RNA amplification. Viral RNA acts like a footprint: It tells scientists that SARS-CoV-2 was present in the person who made the feces.
Social distancing sign  City of St. Albans
Social distancing sign, City of St. Albans
In terms of why there is an association with feces, especially when coronavirus is a respiratory disease, is because the SARS-CoV-2 virus can live in the gastrointestinal system. Here tissues, like the lungs, are lined with cells containing ACE2 receptors which bind the virus and lead to infections.
MinION is a portable  real-time device for DNA and RNA sequencing  ... analysis in whole genomes  wh...
MinION is a portable, real-time device for DNA and RNA sequencing, ... analysis in whole genomes, whole genome assembly, targeted sequencing.
In response to the research questions, the authors' write: "The routine discharge of treated and untreated wastewater into rivers and coastal waters has placed SARS-CoV-2 viability in wastewater at the centre of an emerging hazard and potential risk to water industry workers and the public who come into contact with sewage-impacted water."
They go onto to state that SARS-CoV-2 is shed in stool and urine and it is recoverable, as well as remaining infectious, in wastewater.
The outcome of the research is that the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater in early stages of the spread of COVID-19 can be achieved with reliability, and hence able to provide sufficient data for a local risk assessment to be coducted. Overall, research findings highlight the relevance of the strategy for screening wastewater samples, serving as an early indicator of the infection within a specific population.
Construction workers at a meeting.
Construction workers at a meeting.
Going forwards, as an environmental surveillance tool, the wastewater scanning approach could be implemented in conjunction with treatment plants to provide a mechanism to aid medics to coordinate the coronavirus response in a given locale.
More about human stool, Urine, Wastewater, Covid19, coronavirus
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