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Dartmouth-Hitchcock tracking wastewater for COVID research

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Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 12:33 PM EDT
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LEBANON, N.H. (AP) - Researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock are part of a national effort to better track the course of community outbreaks of the coronavirus by studying wastewater.

Studies indicate genetic material from the virus can be recovered from the stools of about half of patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Researchers across the U.S. and in Europe who are analyzing wastewater say the approach can serve as an early warning because it can detect trends several days before results appear from community testing or people get sick enough to show up at a hospital.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock plans a three-phase project that includes comparing available testing methods, testing wastewater from three communities daily for two weeks and then conducting broader surveillance at more sites across New Hampshire and Vermont. Officials said Wednesday those sites will include nursing homes, prisons and colleges to monitor specific at-risk communities.

“There is definitely national momentum behind this topic,” said Dr. Isabella Martin, a medical microbiologist and co-leader of the project. “Here at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, we feel well-positioned to be at the forefront of testing in our region, contribute our data to the national effort and help develop the best methods for testing.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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