Tracing Pandemics Beyond Symptoms: The Power of Wastewater Epidemiology in COVID-19 Surveillance

Dr. Devrim Kaya
Assistant Professor – San Diego State University
School of Public Health
Host: Dr. Jessica Whiteside

Friday, February 23, 2024
2:30 pm – CSL 422
watch Devrim’s talk


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly highlighted the imperative for robust, population-level infectious disease surveillance mechanisms. This seminar delves into the pioneering application of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) as a versatile, cost-effective strategy for the detection and monitoring of SARS-CoV-2. Through innovative research, we have unveiled the enhanced efficacy of composite sampling over traditional grab sampling methods in capturing SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater systems, proving particularly advantageous in smaller catchment areas. By capitalizing on the capabilities of WBE, we have forecasted COVID-19 prevalence across communities but also traced the evolution and spread of critical variants of concern. This methodological breakthrough has facilitated the early identification of infection hotspots, including specific locales such as dormitories on educational campuses, thereby enabling the implementation of targeted public health interventions. During my talk, I will showcase the instrumental role of WBE in offering an unbiased, comprehensive lens for infectious disease surveillance, underpinning its potential to revolutionize our approach to tracking and combating not only the current pandemic but future outbreaks as well.