Wastewater surveillance reveals infection dynamics

Dr. Farah Ishtiaq, Principal scientist at Tata Institute for Genetics and Society writes for The Hindu on how wastewater surveillance can reveal infection dynamics.

Wastewater or sewage can tell us volumes about the health of a community. The idea here is very simple — most pathogens of interest, e.g., bacteria, virus or protozoa remain viable in the sewage environment for days.

Wastewater-based health surveillance or environmental surveillance is an excellent tool for tracking the presence of different pathogens in the environment. All it needs is a regular and consistent testing of wastewater. It is quite economical and provides real-time data, which makes it very useful for developing countries such as India where not everyone has access to healthcare.

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