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Wastewater Epidemiology

Wastewater testing has been used for decades to detect polio. Recently, it proved to be crucial for broadening COVID surveillance and filling an important gap related to challenges around human testing and diagnosis. Our wastewater epidemiology uses the same methods and solutions for measuring COVID in wastewater as an early warning and monitoring tool for many other viral disease outbreaks.

Why wastewater?

During infection, viruses multiply in a host. Often, even before symptoms are noticeable, many viral particles have already been expelled via urine, feces, saliva, or washed from the skin during showering. These viral particles end up in the sewer systems and, despite being heavily diluted, can be detected by DNA tests. As a result, wastewater systems can provide a wealth of information about human health and be used as an early warning system to drive policy without having to wait for clinical cases.

How does it work?

All we need is a water sample collected at a specific site in the wastewater network. In our laboratory, we perform multiple steps to concentrate the sample and have a tailored workflow to extract the viral genetic material. Next, we run qPCR analysis to measure the total amount of DNA or RNA associated with the virus. We may also deploy other techniques, like Next Generation Sequencing to identify viral mutations. On a case-by-case basis, we assess whether certain normalization steps can be made to correct measured concentrations for factors like population density, human fecal matter content, sampling location, rainfall inflow, and more.

Why choose Wastewater Surveillance from SGS?

We enable you:

  • Screen for multiple viruses, while our workflows are optimized and aligned with proven COVID surveillance.
  • Benefit from our wastewater sampling expertise and automatic water sampling equipment, plus we can execute sampling or advise on the best strategy & methodology.
  • Utilize this service almost anywhere as our global presence and office network can deal with the logistics required to get the samples from almost any location to the most suitable nearby lab.
  • Visualize the surveillance data in our own (tailormade) dashboards or ported to almost any 3rd party monitoring platform
  • Benefit from technical expertise and consultancy provided by SGS experts from the Global Biosciences Center.

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1 Place des Alpes,

P.O. Box 2152, 1211,

Geneva, Switzerland