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MSU, Gallatin Board of Health team up to study virus in wastewater

Posted at 3:38 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 17:38:05-04

During their Wednesday meeting, the Gallatin City-County Board of Health talked about another way that teaming up with Montana State University has helped in the research against the coronavirus - in wastewater.

GCCHD health officer Matt Kelley says the health department and MSU’s Wiedenheft Lab have been able to start looking at preliminary numbers of what they call “viral load” found in sewage.

According to Kelley, those numbers show important data, like when people started getting sick with COVID-19 before they started showing symptoms.

The data also reveals what looks like a steady drop of the virus in the population since April 1.

Wastewater Testing.jpg

“We can’t base decisions totally on this but it can be affirmative,” Kelley says. “It can be a way for us to look at what we are seeing in our case data and look at what we are seeing in our hospitalization data and be able to look at what we are also seeing in the viral load in the sewage and see if that is matching.”

Kelley says, again, it is important to note that these are all preliminary findings but adds this could serve as a “warning system” to detect viral load surges in the future.