Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater at Residential College, Maine, USA, August–November 2020

Yolanda M. Brooks; Bailey Gryskwicz; Shawn Sheehan; Sheri Piers; Parag Mahale; Susan McNeil; Jenna Chase; Doreen Webber; David Borys; Michael Hilton; Dion Robinson; Stephen Sears; Emer Smith; Emily K. Lesher; Robert Wilson; Matthew Goodwin; Michael Pardales


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2021;27(12):3111-3114. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


We used wastewater surveillance to identify 2 coronavirus disease outbreaks at a college in Maine, USA. Cumulative increases of >1 log10 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 RNA in consecutive 24-hour composite samples preceded the outbreaks. For 76% of cases, RNA was identified in grab samples from residence halls ≤7 days before case discovery.


Wastewater surveillance can indicate the presence and temporal trends of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in a sewershed.[1,2] Large universities have used wastewater surveillance to identify residence halls at high risk for transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19.[3,4] We demonstrate that wastewater surveillance using grab samples collected from residential halls and 24-hour composite samples from lift stations can detect COVID-19 outbreaks at a small residential college.