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Presentation date

Summer 8-12-2021

College, Institute, or Department

Internal Medicine

Faculty Mentor

Dr. James Lawler

Research Mentor

Dr. James Lawler


The global response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has demonstrated several limitations, including personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages and absence of sufficient medical personnel in outbreak zones1. These problems may be alleviated through the use of new testing methods, such as wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), to predict potential viral outbreaks in advance of standard testing and hospital admission rates data. SARS-CoV-2 RNA is shed in the waste of infected individuals and is detected by easy and comparatively cheap sampling of communal wastewater 5-8 days post symptom onset2. RT-qPCR of communal wastewater has been suggested as a 7-day leading indicator of compiled testing data and a 3-day leading indicator of hospital entry data3.

Analysis of 67 grab samples taken from 3 sites in Grand Island, Nebraska with Central District Health Department data further establishes viral concentration in wastewater as a significant 7-day leading indicator of positive cases (r = 0.441). The data supports WBE as a simple predictor of outbreaks in small communities, allowing for better communication with health supply centers and general preparedness in the face of rising cases.


Wastewater-based epidemiology, SARS-CoV-2, Wastewater, Case Rates

Wastewater-Based Epidemiology as a Predictor of SARS-CoV-2 Positive Case Rates