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Wastewater Surveillance Facilitates Climate Change–Resilient Pathogen Monitoring

Megan Diamond, Elizabeth Yee, Manisha Bhinge, and Samuel Scarpino co-authored an article for Science Translational Medicine on the opportunity to develop climate-responsive pandemic preparedness systems using wastewater monitoring. The authors write about the history of wastewater monitoring – which was first used to detect poliovirus – and how wastewater surveillance systems reliably signaled surges of Covid-19 variants at the height of the pandemic. The article outlines the policies and partnerships needed to scale wastewater monitoring for infectious diseases, including those that may spread further or faster due to climate change.

“Although wastewater surveillance will not resolve all existing weaknesses in current disease-monitoring programs, it has the potential to leapfrog decades-old challenges,” the authors write. “Alignment between scientific and public health entities on the utility of wastewater testing as a core component of climate-resilient public health surveillance systems is needed to entice widespread adoption of this tool.”

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This article first appeared in Science Translational Medicine on October 18th.