Two Michigan State University labs will receive nearly $6 million for COVID-19 wastewater testing

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 12:10 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Two Michigan State University labs will receive nearly $6 million for projects to conduct COVID-19 wastewater surveillance and testing.

The new project focuses on the use of wastewater surveillance to provide early warnings of COVID-19 cases in the Detroit metropolitan area using wastewater treatment plant and community sewer-shed surveillance, Irene Xagoraraki, professor of environmental engineering, said.

During the project the wastewater will be tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 disease that is shed in feces into Michigan public sewer systems.

“Outcomes of this project will provide important information on prediction and control of upcoming peaks for SARs-CoV-2 and variants in the area,” Xagoraraki said.

Joan Rose’s Water Quality and Environmental Microbiology Laboratory and Irene Xagoraraki’s Environmental Virology Laboratory each received funding.

Rose’s lab will serve as the lead laboratory, responsible for standardizing lab testing and providing technical assistance. Her lab will receive $3.2 million and Xagoraraki’s lab will receive $2.7 million.

“We are going use wastewater surveillance as a way to examine the disease spread and improve communications, access to testing and vaccinations, and return the campus to a vibrant, interactive place to learn,” said Rose, MSU Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research (affiliated with the Departments of Fisheries and Wildlife and Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences) and leader of the Global Water Pathogens Project.

The new funding expands the current monitoring system to cover a larger geographic portion of Michigan. Over the course of the project, it is estimated that more than 87,000 wastewater samples will be collected and analyzed.

To view data from the pilot project, visit the Michigan COVID-19 Wastewater Dashboard. This dashboard will be updated in the near future to reflect the new data that results from this funding. For more information on wastewater monitoring, visit the Wastewater Surveillance for COVID-19 website.

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