The Andrews County Health Department is coordinating with the City of Andrews' Public Wastewater Collection and Treatment department, CDC's National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) and outside laboratories on wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. ACHD started it's sampling in August 2023, and perform weekly data collection to track and monitor trends of COVID-19 for the city of Andrews.
Wastewater surveillance (also named Wastewater-Based Epidemiology), is a supplementary public health tool that can detect the presence and number of viruses, or pathogens such as COVID-190 in wastewater. Unlike other types of public health reporting, wastewater monitoring does not depend on people having access to healthcare, visiting a doctor when sick, or availability of testing for people who are sick.
Wastewater surveillance tracks “pooled samples” that reflect the overall disease activity for a community serviced by the wastewater treatment plant (an area known as a “sewershed”), rather than tracking samples from individual people.
Collecting and analyzing wastewater samples for the overall amount of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles present can help inform public health about the level of viral transmission within a community. Data from wastewater testing are not intended to replace existing COVID-19 surveillance systems, but are meant to complement them. While wastewater surveillance cannot determine the exact number of infected persons in the area being monitored, it can provide the overall trend of virus concentration within that community. This can be useful to public health for several key reasons:
Wastewater surveillance for viral detection is still a developing field. Below are some important considerations to keep in mind.
COVID-19 Wastewater Data for Andrews
*As of 01/23/2024
- Wastewater: What's SARS-CoV-2 got to do with it?
- Wastewater Surveillance Isn't Just About COVID
- NWSS Wastewater COVID Data Tracker
- Kirby AE, Walters MS, Jennings WC, et al. Using Wastewater Surveillance Data to Support the COVID-19 Response — United States, 2020–2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:1242–1244. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7036a2.
- VIDEO - How Wastewater Surveillance Works