‘We’re the poo crew’: sleuths test for Covid by reading signs in sewage

Posted by on April 24, 2021 4:00 am
Categories: Global Stories

Scientists in Exeter are identifying Covid through human faeces – this could be be expanded to monitor other diseases

They call themselves the “poo crew” – a team of health detectives who are tracking down and heading off Covid outbreaks by reading the signs in our sewage. And they are expanding. Earlier this month, the Environmental Monitoring for Health Protection Programme opened a purpose-built laboratory on the fringes of Exeter, its sterile interior in stark contrast to the unsanitary subject of its investigations.

The opening of the laboratory marks a dramatic expansion of what was, until less than a year ago, just a soil pipe dream: testing sewage for coronavirus to understand where it is circulating and get an early warning of future potential spikes in infection. In the future, this network could be expanded to monitor other infectious diseases including flu.

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