Spike in COVID-19 virus detected in Mount Pleasant sewage, study finds

Charleston County News

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Mount Pleasant Waterworks said the results of a recent wastewater sampling and monitoring study found a spike in the COVID-19 virus in sewage.

The study, which is conducted by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Arnold School of Public Health and University of South Carolina, revealed a spike in the “abundance of the COVID-19 virus in the influent, or raw, sewage” collected from Mount Pleasant Waterworks.

Officials say the virus had been undetected in prior samples collected since March 2020.

Mount Pleasant Waterworks is one of eight wastewater treatment utilities across the state working with SCDHEC and Dr. Sean Norman, environmental health sciences professor at USC’s Arnold School of Public Health tracking the virus in particles in wastewater samples.

“My laboratory continues to monitor the abundance of SARS-CoV-2 in sewersheds across South Carolina and we have observed a trend of increasing SARS-CoV-2 abundance across most monitored sites since late May,” said Dr. Norman.

He went on to say, “While the virus has been undetected in sewage collected from the Mount Pleasant Waterworks for most of the study, we have observed a sharp increase in abundance since early June, suggesting increasing viral abundance in the community. These data concur with increased diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the greater Charleston area.”

“MPW is working hard to continue to protect our community by employing innovative wastewater sampling for the coronavirus,” said MPW operations manager, Allan Clum. “Rest assured, the wastewater treatment process destroys the virus but, it is an indicator that we need to be more cautious in our daily lives and that the virus is spreading, It’s also important to point out we are discussing wastewater, and not drinking water. The two are unrelated.”

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