Communities in Merced, Stanislaus, and Yolo counties are using wastewater, also known as sewage, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, flu, RSV and other diseases.
The viruses that cause these diseases leave markers in our wastewater. Almost everyone’s toilet flushes and shower and sink drains flow through sewer lines to the same place – a community’s wastewater treatment plant.
Each treatment plant collects samples that experts at UC Davis and UC Merced analyze for genetic markers of the viruses.
UC Davis and the City of Davis started testing wastewater for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, when the pandemic first began. That effort expanded into Healthy Central Valley Together, a collaborative project among public health departments, communities, and UC Davis and UC Merced that works to prevent the spread of COVID-19.