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)

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

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

The Urgent and Primary Care Centre on Martin Street has officially opened today, March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - File)
Funding denied for Penticton primary care facility

Urgent and Primary Care Centre designated a hospital, but request for $1M in funding denied

On National Takeout Day, April 15, 2021 Penticton announced a new “Picnic Penticton” program beginning in May that will see 36 additional picnic tables added to local parks in an effort to support local restaurants.(Pexels.com/Maksim Goncharenok)
Penticton wants picnics to be all the rage this spring and summer

Who could say no to pizza and beer in the park?

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a truck fire on Dallas Road in Vernon April 15, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
WATCH: Vernon firefighters quick to douse fully involved truck fire

The fire was near multiple structures and spreading along the ground upon crews’ arrival

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

Fire crews tend to a collision that is causing severe traffic delays on the William R. Bennett bridge headed east into Kelowna. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
7 vehicle collision on WR Bennett Bridge under investigation

The collision backed up traffic on the William R. Bennett bridge for much of the morning

Kelowna company celebrates milestone of producing 46 million masks in under a year.
46 million masks and counting: Kelowna company reaches 1 year milstone

In under a year, Breathe Manufacturing Ltd. in Kelowna has hit production of 46 million masks for front-line workers

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna RCMP investigating hit and run involving 11-year-old

Police said the boy suffered minor injuries

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Most Read