Wastewater surveillance researchers identify tools to estimate how many people are represented in a sample

Two doctoral candidates crouch down near a sample site to collect data.
Andrew Rainey and Amber O’Conner, doctoral students in environmental and global health and members of the Gator WATCH™ team, sample wastewater from a manhole.

Wastewater-based epidemiology is a valuable public health surveillance tool that has been used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to track disease trends in a community over time. A team of investigators from the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions has identified a population biomarker that will help scientists generate the most accurate disease trend results in their communities.

The team of scientists in the PHHP department of environmental and global health, including Ph.D. student Andrew Rainey and faculty members Anthony Maurelli, Ph.D., Joseph Bisesi, Ph.D., Tara Sabo-Attwood, Ph.D., and Song Liang, Ph.D., published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

For their study, the investigators, who are also members of UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, evaluated population normalization factors, which are used to determine the relative human fecal contribution in a sample. With this information, scientists can control for fluctuations in the population contributing to a wastewater sample throughout time while quantifying the SARS-CoV-2 wastewater concentrations.

This article was originally written by Jill Pease for UF PHHP. To read the full article, visit the PHHP website.