Wastewater surveillance for bacterial targets: current challenges and future goals


<jats:title>ABSTRACT</jats:title> <jats:p>Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) expanded rapidly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the public health emergency has ended, researchers and practitioners are looking to shift the focus of existing wastewater surveillance programs to other targets, including bacteria. Bacterial targets may pose some unique challenges for WBE applications. To explore the current state of the field, the National Science Foundation-funded Research Coordination Network (RCN) on Wastewater Based Epidemiology for SARS-CoV-2 and Emerging Public Health Threats held a workshop in April 2023 to discuss the challenges and needs for wastewater bacterial surveillance. The targets and methods used in existing programs were diverse, with twelve different targets and nine different methods listed. Discussions during the workshop highlighted the challenges in adapting existing programs and identified research gaps in four key areas: choosing new targets, relating bacterial wastewater data to human disease incidence and prevalence, developing methods, and normalizing results. To help with these challenges and research gaps, the authors identified steps the larger community can take to improve bacteria wastewater surveillance. This includes developing data reporting standards and method optimization and validation for bacterial programs. Additionally, more work is needed to understand shedding patterns for potential bacterial targets to better relate wastewater data to human infections. Wastewater surveillance for bacteria can help provide insight into the underlying prevalence in communities, but much work is needed to establish these methods.</jats:p> <jats:sec> <jats:title>IMPORTANCE</jats:title> <jats:p>Wastewater surveillance was a useful tool to elucidate the burden and spread of SARS-CoV-2 during the pandemic. Public health officials and researchers are interested in expanding these surveillance programs to include bacterial targets, but many questions remain. The NSF-funded Research Coordination Network for Wastewater Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and Emerging Public Health Threats held a workshop to identify barriers and research gaps to implementing bacterial wastewater surveillance programs.</jats:p> </jats:sec>






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Publication Info

Philo, Sarah E, Kara B De León, Rachel T Noble, Nicolette A Zhou, Rashed Alghafri, Itay Bar-Or, Amanda Darling, Nishita D'Souza, et al. (n.d.). Wastewater surveillance for bacterial targets: current challenges and future goals. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 10.1128/aem.01428-23 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/29540.

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Delgado Vela

Jeseth Delgado Vela

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Jeseth Delgado Vela joined Duke University as an Assistant Professor in August 2023. Her work focuses on leveraging environmental biotechnology to improve urban water infrastructure. She integrates molecular tools and modeling to understand how microbial community interactions and dynamics affect engineered water treatment systems. Dr. Delgado Vela earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in Environmental Engineering and M.S. at the University of Michigan, and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining Duke, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Howard University. She was a recipient of the Ford Foundation Dissertation Award (2016), was named an Early Career Research Fellow by the Gulf Research Program (2022), and was awarded an NSF CAREER Award (2022).

An updated CV is available here: https://duke.box.com/v/jdv-cv-webversion

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