Wastewater Surveillance in NYS

Wastewater surveillance provides a fast, confidential and accurate way to detect Illness-causing viruses, bacteria, or exposures to environmental hazards testing waste streams entering a wastewater treatment plant. This type of surveillance helps health departments, the health care community and hospitals protect public health.

This video was produced by the New York State Wastewater Surveillance Network.

Key Takeaways

  • Wastewater surveillance can show accurate trends of cases in a community without waiting for people to get tested on their own.
  • Wastewater surveillance protects people’s privacy. Wastewater is collected and tested from community wastewater treatment plants. Results are not traced back to individuals.
  • Wastewater surveillance is especially useful for tracking illness because it measures levels of a viruses, bacteria, and germs, regardless of whether people have symptoms or not.
  • Wastewater surveillance is not a substitute for people to get tested for illnesses. People who have been exposed should rely on individual test results.

Learn More About Wastewater Surveillance

Wastewater surveillance is an important tool to track the spread of COVID-19. It can detect the virus in wastewater as many as three to seven days before we see increases in the percentage of people who test positive or are hospitalized. This is useful for predicting a rise in cases within a community.

In New York State, wastewater is tested for the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19. This is done by collecting the wastewater samples from community wastewater treatment plants and sending them to laboratories to measure the amount of the virus in the sample.

Wastewater surveillance collects one sample from a community wastewater treatment plant for the entire group of people who are served by that treatment plant. This method ensures individual privacy and anonymity because samples cannot be traced back to any individual or household.

Several counties are exploring using wastewater surveillance to track opioids and their metabolites, antimicrobial resistant pathogens, influenza, RSV, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, and polio.