JACKSON, Wyo. — The Teton County Weed and Pest District will take the reigns to test Jackson’s wastewater for COVID-19.
The Town of Jackson and the Teton County Health Department previously sent wastewater samples to a lab at MIT to be tested, but the lab raised its fees in May. The new local partnership will allow the Teton County Health Department to monitor trends in infection in the community, as COVID-19 can be found in human waste.
“Analyzing wastewater for COVID-19 is yet another way we can see the amount of infection in our community,” said Teton District Health Officer Travis Riddell. “Routine wastewater surveillance will be one more dataset for us to keep an eye on the trend of COVID-19 infections.”
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. 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 quantitative 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.
“This is a natural fit for the Weed and Pest District as part of our mission is focused on public health,” said Weed and Pest District Supervisor Erika Edmiston. “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.