A new tool from the WE-Spark Health Institute combines local wastewater surveillance testing with University of Windsor saliva-based screening to monitor the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The interactive dashboard compares the levels of the virus in wastewater to active or new COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex to detect outbreaks in real time. It pulls data from several local Windsor-Essex wastewater treatment plants, noted UWindsor professor Lisa Porter, the institute’s executive director.
“The dashboard, combined with the wastewater and saliva screening, provides a surveillance platform to support the safe re-opening of Windsor-Essex,” she said.
“If we have learned anything through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the importance of having this kind of surveillance that can be rapidly deployed to isolate affected populations and avoid widespread outbreaks that can devastate our community.”
Computer science professor Pooya Moradian Zadeh and his Master’s students Farzaneh Jouyandeh and Sarvnaz Sadeghi created the dashboard with input from a multi-disciplinary team: biologists Dr. Porter and Jackie Fong, biochemist Yufeng Tong, epidemiologist Mathew Roy, and environmental microbiologists under the direction of Mike McKay from the Great Lakes Institute of Environmental Research (GLIER).
The City of Windsor, Town of Amherstburg, and municipalities of Lakeshore and Leamington provide weekly wastewater samples.
The dashboard identifies the number of outbreaks by location, providing invaluable information to healthcare leaders and decision-makers. Porter said the platform can be extended to other infectious diseases, such as the seasonal flu.
She invites members of the public to see the direct relationship between case numbers and COVID-19 in wastewater. The WE-Spark COVID-19 Dashboard is updated daily at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. and can be viewed here.