How Wastewater Surveillance Works
Wastewater surveillance can help communities detect and prepare for increasing cases of COVID-19. Data are available quickly, 5 to 7 days after the toilet flush.
- People with COVID-19 can shed the virus in their feces (poop), even if they don’t have symptoms.
- The virus in poop is flushed down the toilet and travels through the sewage system.
- Before wastewater is treated, wastewater technicians take samples to get information about the virus.
- Laboratories test for the virus and measure virus levels in the wastewater.
- Public health officials use wastewater data to better understand COVID-19 trends in communities and make decisions, such as where to have mobile testing and vaccination sites.