SARS-CoV-2 in dormitory wastewater and the link to human COVID-19 cases at The Ohio State University

Emily Lu
Graduate (MS)
Jiyoung Lee
Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Wastewater-based epidemiology has been historically been used to monitor disease spread within communities. The Ohio State University implemented a SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance program in the fall of 2020 utilized concurrently with university-required weekly COVID-19 saliva testing to monitor COVID-19 prevalence in the on-campus communities. In this study, nucleocapsid and envelope gene detection was used to detect SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in wastewater once a week at 6 sites across the Columbus campus. SARS-CoV-2 gene detection was also studied with its relationship to environmental parameters: total suspended solids, turbidity, and pH. The study shows a slightly significant relationship between N1 gene concentrations and turbidity as well as TSS; and shows a significant relationship between E gene concentrations and pH and turbidity by Spearman correlations (<0.05). This study also shows a significant relationship between human positive case counts and wastewater gene concentrations by Spearman correlations (<0.05). These results suggest that wastewater-based epidemiology can be considered for a larger role in community disease monitoring in the future.