Wastewater-based epidemiology for early warning of SARS-COV-2 circulation: A pilot study conducted in Sicily, Italy

We present the results of SARS-CoV-2 environmental surveillance activity in wastewater samples collected between September 2020 and July 2021 in 9 wastewater treatment plants (WTPs) located in central and western Sicily, serving over 570,000 residents. The presence of SARS-CoV-2, determined in 206 wastewater samples using RT-qPCR assays, was correlated with the notified and geo-referenced cases on the areas served by the WTPs in the same study period. Overall, 51% of wastewater samples were positive. Samples were correlated with 33,807 SARS-CoV-2 cases, reported in 4 epidemic waves, with a cumulative prevalence of 5.9% among Sicilian residents. The results suggest that the daily prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 active cases was statistically significant and higher in areas with SARS-CoV-2 positive wastewater samples. According to these findings, the proposed method achieves a good sensitivity profile (78.3%) in areas with moderate or high viral circulation (≥133 cases/100,000 residents) and may represent a useful tool in the management of epidemics based on an environmental approach, although it is necessary to improve the accuracy of the process.PMID:35279536 | DOI:10.1016/j.ijheh.2022.113948
Source: International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental health - Category: Environmental Health Authors: Source Type: research