LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching a new tool to help track COVID-19 variants and potential surges.
At the moment, there's no data coming in from Kentucky or Indiana. Once those states are added Kentuckians and Hoosiers will be able to search their county and see if the virus is showing up in their neighborhood.
During a teleconference Friday, the CDC said it initiated the National Wastewater Surveillance System in September of 2020. It was a grassroots effort by academic researchers and wastewater utilities and has quickly become a nationwide surveillance system.
The agency is now working with health departments across the country to include results state-by-state and within each county of the state.
This is nothing new for health experts in Louisville. In 2020, WHAS11's FOCUS team showed how researchers at UofL were testing wastewater collected by Louisville's Metro Sewer District (MSD) to try and stay ahead of outbreaks.
In the summer of 2021, UofL researchers also tested wastewater to track the delta variant in Kentucky.
“Wastewater has shown to be a leading indicator of what is actually going to happen in the community," said Fuqua. “So it provides kind of like an early warning system,” Josh Fuqua said.
The CDC also says wastewater gives health experts a way to track the spread of COVID because the virus can be detected without anyone having to actually get tested.
The virus can be found in wastewater because once a person is infected with COVID-19, it multiplies within them. And, just like some other viruses, scientists say people shed it in their stool or urine.
The wastewater method has the potential to also track norovirus, the flu, and even opioid use.
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