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Wastewater testing has strong public support despite limited knowledge

A survey of 565 adults from five states found that most (58%) were aware that public health officials tested sewer water, but less that 10% said they knew a lot about it. In contrast, 61% said they knew little or nothing about it.

What is wastewater monitoring?

Wastewater monitoring helps communities detect and respond promptly to infectious disease outbreaks. People with infections can shed parts of a virus or bacteria when they use the toilet, take a shower, wash their hands, or even do laundry. Those virus or bacteria parts go down the drain, through the pipes, into the sewer and on to a treatment plant. Before the sewer water is treated, samples are taken and tested in a lab. The amount of virus or bacteria found in the samples is a good indicator of whether and how much a disease has spread in the community.

Do Americans support wastewater monitoring?

After providing respondents with a brief description of how wastewater monitoring works, 82% said they support (42%) or strongly support (40%) using it to detect viruses or bacteria in a community. Only 3% opposed or strongly opposed it, and 15% neither supported nor opposed it.

How is wastewater monitoring being used?

Recently, the CDC detected new COVID-19 variants, known as FLiRT, using wastewater monitoring. Among survey respondents from St. Louis, only 11% had heard about the new FLiRT variants in the last 7 days. In addition to COVID, wastewater is commonly monitored for flu, RSV and noroviruses.

Help St. Louis stay informed about wastewater monitoring.

Community organizations in St. Louis can share the resources below to build public knowledge about wastewater monitoring.

Survey information

This week’s report is based on responses from a panel of adult residents of St. Louis, MO (n = 149), Baltimore, MD (n = 168), Omaha, NE (n = 82), Colorado (n = 94) and Texas (n = 73) surveyed May 25-27, 2024. Explore these data and more at iHeardSTL.

Download the graphics below to share about this topic.

Suggested Caption:

Wastewater monitoring helps find infectious disease outbreaks.

πŸ¦ βœ… When people have infections, virus and bacteria fragments enter the sewer system. Before treatment, samples are taken and tested in labs to find disease spread in a community. πŸ”πŸŒ

#iHeardSTL #WastewaterMonitoring #CommunityHealth

Suggested Caption:

82% of respondents supported using wastewater monitoring to detect viruses or bacteria in the community. πŸ’―πŸ”πŸ¦ 

#iHeardSTL #WastewaterMonitoring #CommunitySupport

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Stay safe, St. Louis!
With a new COVID-19 variant family emerging called FLiRT, it’s important to keep practicing safety measures. Together, we can keep our community healthy! 🧼😷

#COVID19 #StaySafe #HealthMatters #iHeardSTL

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