Amherst Wastewater Surveillance Program - SARS-CoV-2 Virus in Wastewater
The Town of Amherst, partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Biobot Analytics, initiated COVID wastewater sampling on April 23, 2022. Supported by State funding, Amherst’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and Amherst Health Department are collaborating to present surveillance data that reflects trends in the population-wide COVID-19 burden (see below for the CDC description).
DPW collects one 24-hour composite sample that is representative of all buildings, homes, and businesses that contribute wastewater to the Amherst Wastewater Treatment Plant, including Amherst College, Hampshire College and UMass. This sample collection is occurring three times each week. The lab measures the number copies of the virus per liter of sewage, the initial count is adjusted for dilution and other factors.
According to the CDC, People infected with SARS-CoV-2 can shed the virus in their feces, even if they don’t have symptoms. The virus can then be detected in wastewater, enabling wastewater surveillance to capture presence of SARS-CoV-2 shed by people with and without symptoms. This allows wastewater surveillance to serve as an early warning that COVID-19 is spreading in a community. Once health departments are aware, communities can act quickly to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Data from wastewater testing support public health mitigation strategies by providing additional crucial information about the prevalence of COVID-19 in a community.
To view the current or previous reports for Amherst's Wastewater Surveillance Program, please click here. These reports are intended to provide a local, regional, state, and national perspective on the results from the wastewater surveillance in Amherst.