Wastewater monitoring has been implemented as an early warning system in many areas to rapidly detect and reduce the spread of many pathogens. Epidemiological surveillance of wastewater has been applied and is not limited to, norovirus, hepatitis viruses, poliovirus, and bacteria (Salmonella, E. coli, ...).
Wastewater monitoring enable authorities to see the "wave" of cases coming, sometimes 2 week in advance. Hence, authorities can react in different ways : increasing the hospital preparation (equipment, staff,...) to take care of incoming wave of patients, restrain access to some activities (leisure, pools,...), encourage the population to stay home, consult, etc... There are numerous examples where wastewater surveillance has been instrumental in preventing and controlling past outbreaks.
Since the creation of AMR TDT, we have been advocating for regulations that will favor the implementation of wastewater monitoring, especially in urban environments and medical and veterinary facilities.
Surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted research and implementation of wastewater monitoring worldwide. At least 55 countries track the COVID variants in wastewater, according to a study published in 2022 (source 1). Following COVID-19, decision takers and communities more inclined to develop monitoring strategies.
Friction points exist, however, in particular how information from the monitoring system is collected and analyzed, then communicated to the decision leaders. To tackle these practical aspects, AMR TDT experts would like to obtain funds (and are applying for some grants) for implementation research, to establish a cost-effective and efficient pipeline based on the best current approaches. Our board has the knowledge to do so. We also would like to develop an easy-to-use decision software readily usable anywhere. If you wish to contribute, partner or financially help us, please contact us.
A recent article published in nature (source 2) underlines the necessity of developing such an approach and implementing it worldwide. To quote the article, "unchecked transmission anywhere is a problem everywhere."
Source 1: Ahmed, W. et al. Sci. Total Environ. 805, 149877 (2022).
Source 2: Wastewater monitoring comes of Age. Editorial https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-022-01201-0.