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Following the emergence of COVID-19, scientists have identified that the virus is present in the guts of a large portion of COVID-19 patients and subsequently shed within their stool. Recent studies have shown that RNA of the virus can be detected in sewage much earlier than the first confirmed case in a community through traditional testing, with increases in the virus’ genome units in wastewater corresponding well with increases in the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients.
As a result, monitoring of virus levels in sewage may not only provide an effective tool for understanding the prevalence of the disease in a community, but also serve as an early warning surveillance tool. Until a vaccine is found, COVID-19 is expected to return in waves, creating the need for inexpensive, noninvasive, accurate and easily deployable monitoring tools to effectively manage future outbreaks.
Dr. Banu Örmeci’s research group at Carleton University is working on the development of an early warning tool based on COVID-19 levels in sewage collected from different zones in Ottawa, ON. The geographic information collected on the spread and prevalence of the virus will enable the identification of hot spots as targets for potential health and safety interventions, saving both lives and resources.
Partnership and collaborative effort are essential when it comes to addressing complex, global issues such as COVID-19. Dr. Örmeci is interested in collaborating with diverse research partners – including treatment plants, municipalities, public health officials, epidemiologists, industrial partners and other stakeholders – to carry out this critical work. To learn more or how to get involved, visit Carleton’s Hub for Good.
|Dr. Banu Örmeci is the Jarislowsky Chair in Water and Health, Canada Research Professor in Wastewater Treatment Engineering, and the Director of the Global Water Institute at Carleton University. Having received her Ph.D. from Duke University, she now leads an internationally recognized research program on wastewater and biosolids treatment and monitoring at Carleton.
Dr. Örmeci recently received a CU COVID-19 Rapid Research Response Grant for Monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater to Minimize/Prevent Future Outbreaks.
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Ingenious Talks is a special speaker series from the Faculty of Engineering and Design that engages the community in discussions of timely and innovative ideas in engineering, design and technology.