UVic researcher Heather Buckley holds a wastewater sample, which will be used to study and identify future outbreaks of COVID-19 throughout B.C., starting in Greater Victoria. (Courtesy of University of Victoria)

University of Victoria to study COVID outbreaks from your poop

Greater Victoria first to receive sewage monitoring system in B.C.

What if you could tell when a population had outbreaks of COVID-19, whether they were symptomatic or asymptomatic?

Three engineering researchers at University of Victoria are developing a sewage monitoring system with a private company to do exactly that.

“For centuries, people have been tested individually for infectious diseases,” said Devesh Bharadwaj, CEO of Pani Energy, a company the UVic alum founded in 2017, in a release. “Being able to test their collective waste to provide a supplemental data source for disease surveillance, is an emerging field with considerable potential.”

ALSO READ: Driver offers cash to be infected with COVID-19 out front of B.C. pharmacy

Bharagwaj is joining Stephanie Willerth, chair of UVic’s Biomedical Engineering program, and Caetano Dorea, head of the Public Health and Environmental Engineering lab, to study samples and report about wastewater data from across B.C. in July.

Notably, the wide range of pathogens that can be detected in wastewater will give public health agencies a useful tool to monitor outbreaks in the future. This project has been funded through a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

ALSO READ: Anxiety high as Canadian schools prepare for students from COVID-ravaged U.S.

“Having this predictive tool will be a real game changer, both in terms of responding to a second wave of COVID-19, as well as to other pathogen outbreaks over the longer term,” said Buckley in a release. “Victoria is currently at a near-zero point with COVID-19, so any data we can collect now provides us with a baseline against which we can compare when the virus returns.”

Greater Victoria will be the first area in the province where the university will implement the new wastewater monitoring system.

RELATED: B.C. to begin to test sewage to find clues about where COVID-19 has spread


@iaaronguillen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

CoronavirusUniversity of Victoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Former Summerlander receives Emmy nomination for makeup work

Lucky Bromhead recognized for her work with Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek

Health care priorities debated following surprise funding announcement

Surprise provincial funding stirs debate on local health care priorities during regional meeting

Morning Start: High heels were first designed for men

Your morning start for Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

EDITORIAL: Managing wildfires

Wildfires have the potential to cause significant damage within our province

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

No new COVID-19 cases in Kelowna over the weekend

Kelowna has nine of the Interior Health region’s 13 active cases

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

West Kelowna woman upset with RCMP response to street brawl

A physical altercation between a group of teens and a group of adults erupted on a West Kelowna street Sunday evening

Kelowna real estate agent fined $6,500 for ‘misleading’ website

The website listed several services its owner was not licensed to provide

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

UFO trackers set their sights on Revelstoke skies

Rob Freeman UFO World Explorer and crew went up Sale Mountain

Most Read