Measurement of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater tracks community infection dynamics.


We measured severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA concentrations in primary sewage sludge in the New Haven, Connecticut, USA, metropolitan area during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in Spring 2020. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected throughout the more than 10-week study and, when adjusted for time lags, tracked the rise and fall of cases seen in SARS-CoV-2 clinical test results and local COVID-19 hospital admissions. Relative to these indicators, SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations in sludge were 0-2 d ahead of SARS-CoV-2 positive test results by date of specimen collection, 0-2 d ahead of the percentage of positive tests by date of specimen collection, 1-4 d ahead of local hospital admissions and 6-8 d ahead of SARS-CoV-2 positive test results by reporting date. Our data show the utility of viral RNA monitoring in municipal wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 infection surveillance at a population-wide level. In communities facing a delay between specimen collection and the reporting of test results, immediate wastewater results can provide considerable advance notice of infection dynamics.

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