Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WBE)
Wastewater-based epidemiology is a cost-effective method of capturing data from hundreds to thousands of people simultaneously and anonymously and is relatively unbiased in geography and demographics. It has been previously used for public health management purposes, such as monitoring poliovirus and the impact of immunisation programmes.
Cefas provides advice, standardised methods and guidance on WBE via the wastewater reference laboratory. The wastewater reference laboratory also provides quality assurance via inter-laboratory trials for the quantification of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.
Cefas established a new environmental genomic facility in Exeter initially to support the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 with a longer-term aim to provide wider environmental monitoring. Current projects include monitoring for foodborne disease pathogens and SARS-CoV-2.
Wastewater Based Environmental Monitoring (WBEM)
Wastewater monitoring has the potential to be applied in numerous other areas such as wider environmental and animal disease monitoring to inform rapid responses to pollution or disease outbreak events.