Disease detection through wastewater sampling

Sampling wastewater to monitor public health through disease detection

Louisville MSD and Public Health

Sewer systems like Louisville MSD exist first and foremost to protect public health. We do that by collecting wastewater and its disease carrying germs from homes and businesses, then transporting it to Waster Quality Treatment Centers where we get rid of the germs to make the water safe to put back into waterways such as the Ohio River. Disease detection is also a part of the mission.

MSD's public health mission took on another dimension during the Covid-19 epidemic as scientists used samples of our wastewater to find out when and where the virus was present in the community. The scientists determined that disease detection using wastewater sampling is a faster, more reliable way to track infection than waiting for people to develop symptoms, get tested and have medical professionals report the test results.

Wastewater monitoring can be used to track seasonal viruses like flu and any other infections that can be detected in urine and stool. Below is a list of studies using Louisville MSD wastewater samples for public health purposes.


Worker retrieving and MSD wastewater sample