Fulton County starts testing wastewater for COVID-19 and Monkeypox

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 12:00 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -With Monkeypox cases on the rise in Georgia and COVID-19 numbers back up, Fulton County is taking a proactive approach to tracking cases by testing waste water.

Scientists say knowing where cases of COVID and monkeypox are is as simple as taking about a coffee cup full of wastewater and sending it off to a lab. When you have COVID or Monkeypox, it sheds off of you. Then those viruses will show up in wastewater. Scientists can then analyze that and come up with an estimate of people infected based off of the number of viruses per liter.

With Monkeypox up to about 300 cases in Georgia according to the CDC, Fulton County leaders decided it was time to get an idea of where those cases are located and how fast the infection is spreading. Testing from different wastewater plants will give a rough idea of area in the county where there are issues.

And these past few weeks, the CDC has seen an increase in COVID cases throughout the country. That’s why the water is being tested for that virus as well.

“As we all know, people are not being tested like they were in the beginning, so this gives our public health departments and our leaders and policy makers an idea of what’s going on out in the public as far as infection rates,” said Patrick Person, the lab manager at the Cedar Creek Water Reclamation Facility.

Those test results will take about a week to get in, then they’ll be posted on Fulton County’s website.