A partnership between the Teton County Weed and Pest District, the Teton County Health Department and the Town of Jackson was created to determine a way to test the wastewater from the Town of Jackson for COVID-19. Weed and Pest worked with the Teton County Health Department to ensure they had the correct equipment and personal protective equipment to run the wastewater samples in-house. COVID-19 can be found in human waste and the results will be another data point to understand the presence of COVID-19 in our community. The samples will be tested using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, which is the same type of test used for active disease testing. PCR is a qualitative test that detects nucleic acid from SAR-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in the wastewater samples.
Despite being more experienced in testing West Nile virus than COVID-19, the Weed and Pest District lab is outfitted with the correct equipment and expertise to help make a difference during this pandemic. Weed and Pest District Supervisor, Erika Edmiston stated, “This is a natural fit for the Weed and Pest District as part of our mission is focused on public health.” She went on to say, “our lab capacity was untapped and now with this partnership we are making a meaningful contribution to save time and resources, while providing same-day results. The previous lab used to test the wastewater was located out of state.
Samples will be collected from the Town of Jackson sewer system two times per week beginning July 13th, 2020. Teton District Health Officer, Travis Riddell, MD, stated “analyzing wastewater for COVID-19 is yet another way we can see the amount of infection in our community. Routine wastewater surveillance will be one more dataset for us to keep an eye on the trend of COVID-19 infections.”
The Health Department thanks the Town of Jackson and Teton County Weed and Pest for their efforts in COVID-19 surveillance.