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Researchers use sequencing to detect variants of COVID-19 in waste water

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Waste Water Update

Courtesy: Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene

Throughout the pandemic, researchers have made headway in using waste water to detect COVID-19 levels in communities.

MADISON (WKOW) -- Throughout the pandemic, researchers have made headway in using wastewater to detect COVID-19 levels in communities.

Now, researchers in Wisconsin have also started sequencing for specific variants of COVID-19 in wastewater.

Right now, they say they are seeing largely the Omicron variant in Dane county.

“We are excited that we have sequencing up and running, and that we can detect variants and wastewater using it,” Dr. Kayley Janssen from the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene said.

According to Janssen, wastewater is both a telling and cost effective way to see where communities stand.

“To test each individual within a community would cost a lot, as opposed to just a single sample with the use of wastewater,” Janssen said.

In addition to using sequencing to detect variants, Dr. Dagmara Antkiewicz from the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene said they are also using it to track the flu.

“We've also been tracking influenza, so flu, the two major strains A and B,” Antikewicz said.

Right now, the doctors say wastewater in Madison shows a 'no change.'

"I would say generally, in Wisconsin, things are kind of at a steady level are showing a decrease right now across the state," Janssen said.

The doctors hope to continue using sequencing to help track viruses into the future.

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