OCTOBER 8, 2020 — A UTSA research team is finding plenty of evidence that the spread of the novel coronavirus can be tracked using our sewer systems. Vikram Kapoor, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is nearing the end of an eight-month study testing wastewater for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Kapoor’s team has received nearly $160,000 in CARES Act funding through the Health Collaborative and San Antonio Metro Health to work on the project.
The researchers found SARS-CoV-2 RNA in sewage released through feces, bodily fluids and other residues. A study of samples taken from June through August found wastewater levels containing coronavirus that mirror positive COVID-19 cases reported through San Antonio Metro Health during that time period.
“The technology is there to monitor SARS-CoV-2 through wastewater-based epidemiology,” said Kapoor. “Taking advantage of sewerage systems to collect real-time information could be a promising tool to provide early detection of COVID.”
In addition to verifying the number of positive COVID-19 cases reported from local health officials, Kapoor says wastewater testing is beneficial for discovering information not found through standard testing methods.
“This noninvasive complementary data is also very useful on providing insight on COVID when a significant portion of the population doesn’t get tested because they’re asymptomatic or have mild symptoms,” said Kapoor.
Kapoor adds that wastewater testing is also effective for early detection when coronavirus may spike again, which health officials are predicting will happen as colder weather sets in.
UTSA is partnering with the San Antonio River Authority to gather weekly samples from its wastewater treatment plants. The samples are delivered to UTSA laboratories for analysis.
“The San Antonio River Authority was contacted by numerous entities to participate and provide samples to study the detection of coronavirus in wastewater,” said Amy Middleton, the agency’s utilities manager. “Due to the already established relationship between both institutions and UTSA’s long-standing reputation for quality research, the decision was made to move forward with this study.”
Partnerships like this are vital for having access to detect potential COVID-19 hot spots in the future. This test can also be used to understand the spread of coronavirus in marginalized communities, where clinical testing can be limited, by gathering the samples from sewerage lines in those communities.
“This serves as another layer of information public health and government officials have at their disposal to track increases or decreases of COVID levels in a community,” Kapoor said.
UTSA’s wastewater research will conclude in early December. Kapoor and his team will create a report with project results along with lessons learned and recommendations at that time.
The report will be shared with San Antonio Metro Health to assess how wastewater testing for coronavirus could be expanded in 2021.
UTSA Main Campus will serve as a designated polling station during the early voting period, today through October 30, and on Election Day, November 3.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104)
The Center for Collegiate Recovery presents a discussion series on Recovery. Join the discussion with Dr. Robb Kelly and learn how to build and sustain recovery from addiction. Be prepared to be challenged, encouraged, and enriched!Virtual Event
The tuba and euphonium students of Prof. Gary Poffenbarger will perform remotely in a live-streamed concert to be transmitted via the Department's Facebook page. The students will perform live, from their homes taking turns logging in when they are up and logging off when they are done so the next performer can log in, etc. until the recital is finished.Virtual Event
Are you interested in learning more about how RowdyLink can assist your Student Organization? Are you a new organization leader and want to learn some basics regarding RowdyLink? Please join us at our RowdyLink Lunch and Learn Series. We will be going over various parts of RowdyLink during each series such as Managing your Roster, Mobile Check-In, Managing and Creating Forms, creating events and more.Virtual Event
Chomp and Chat is a series of conversations held casually during lunch on a specific topic. The topic for Oct 28 is cultural appropriation. We will talk the concept in general, but also as it appears during Halloween and Día de los Muertos.Virtual Event
Join Student Health Services as we discuss Spiritual Wellbeing with Counseling and Mental Health Services.Virtual Event
Join us for a drive-thru event from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 29 and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 30 to give back during this election period. Roadrunners will have the opportunity to give back to the community and get the information needed to make your voice heard for your community. During this experience, you can drive up to make a donation to the Roadrunner Pantry and get all of the voting information you need to early vote this election.Outside Recreation Wellness Center
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