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  • Writer's pictureBill Moorhead

Poop as a predictor of coronavirus outbreaks?

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

The vast brown rivers of sludge that gush into sewage treatment plants may help to identify new variants of coronavirus, scientists tell CNN.

In Germany, which has been cited as an example of how to curtail the pandemic, a research trial is sampling wastewater from large urban areas in an attempt to find evidence of the virus.

The goal is for almost all sewage plants to install these coronavirus early warning systems in order to track the spread of Covid-19.

"It would be the first test line," said microbiologist Hauke Harms, one of the leaders of the study.  

The concept seems fairly simple: Sewage contains remnants of the virus from human feces. If those concentrations suddenly jump, sewage plants would detect that and alert authorities to take action and begin targeted testing of the area in question.

It’s just one among a web of measures being developed to detect outbreaks in the long term, Fred Pleitgen writes.

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