SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is shed in feces by infected individuals and can be measured in wastewater. Wastewater analysis measures the levels of non-infectious RNA in wastewater, not the viable, infectious virus itself.

HudsonAlpha and the City of Huntsville are working together to battle COVID-19 and monitor the disease spread within our community. Huntsville Wastewater delivers an untreated wastewater sample to HudsonAlpha on a bi-weekly basis. The samples are then filtered to produce concentrated viral nucleic acid samples. The RNA is extracted and run through a digital droplet polymerase chain reaction (PCR) system to detect the amount of RNA in the sample.

Wastewater monitoring captures a large community sample and can help city leaders anticipate areas where the virus is likely to spread and limit the impact through preventative and protective measures.

[UPDATED: OCTOBER 14th, 2022]

The abundance of SARS-Cov2 genomic RNA in Huntsville wastewater collected from three treatment sites is shown versus collection dates. Digital droplet PCR was used to quantify raw levels from each site. Because absolute SARS-Cov2 levels vary across sites due to technical reasons, the levels were normalized within each collection site. The black line is a smoothed spline fit to the normalized data. The gray region is the interquartile range for a centered five-day rolling window. The dashed gray line represents a break in the data collection.

The quantifying SARS-CoV-2 graphic was created with