SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Water samples collected by the Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats (CEEVT) at LSU Health Shreveport revealed an increase in the level of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the wastewater in northwest Louisiana.

According to CEEVT researchers, an increase in the virus that causes COVID-19 in wastewater test results has preceded a rise in infections.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen increases in SARS-CoV-2 levels ahead of rises in cases. Labs that perform wastewater monitoring see this as well, and it can provide an early warning system that cases are about to increase in an area,” the report said.

SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater was down for several months since the Omicron surge in early 2022.

The latest data from the CEEVT at LSUHS provide health officials with insight into what is happening in the region and what they can expect regarding COVID-19 spread and the virus’ prevalence in the community.

According to LSUHS, they are providing information to make the population aware of the risk of spreading viruses in the community as they gather for holidays.

“Being up to date on your vaccinations and boosters, washing your hands frequently, wearing masks or avoiding crowded indoor activity, and staying home if you feel sick are effective ways to reduce your risk of spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses circulating this winter,” LSUHS said in a statement.

Monitoring the genetic code of viruses detected in wastewater can help scientists track the spread of COVID-19 and the variants circulating in the community. They can also use the data to detect new and emerging variants that should be monitored.

Wastewater samples that show an increase in SARS-CoV-2 levels are sent to the Viral Genomics and Sequencing Lab within the CEEVT for viral sequencing.

“Sequencing from wastewater samples is a more complex process and analysis than
sequencing a COVID-19 test sample, but it can provide insight to any new variants or
subvariants that are circulating within the community,” Dr. Krista Queen, Director of
Viral Genomics and Surveillance at LSU Health Shreveport said.