Developing wastewater-based surveillance schemes for multiple pathogens: The WastPan project in Finland.

Tiwari A, Lehto K, Paspaliari DK, Al-Mustapha AI, Sarekoski A, Hokajärvi A, Länsivaara A, Hyder R, Luomala O, Lipponen A, Oikarinen S, Heikinheimo A, Pitkänen T, WastPan Study Group

Sci Total Environ 926 (-) 171401 [2024-05-20; online 2024-03-10]

Wastewater comprises multiple pathogens and offers a potential for wastewater-based surveillance (WBS) to track the prevalence of communicable diseases. The Finnish WastPan project aimed to establish wastewater-based pandemic preparedness for multiple pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi), including antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This article outlines WastPan's experiences in this project, including the criteria for target selection, sampling locations, frequency, analysis methods, and results communication. Target selection relied on epidemiological and microbiological evidence and practical feasibility. Within the WastPan framework, wastewater samples were collected between 2021 and 2023 from 10 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) covering 40 % of Finland's population. WWTP selection was validated for reported cases of Extended Spectrum Beta-lactamase-producing bacterial pathogens (Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae) from the National Infectious Disease Register. The workflow included 24-h composite influent samples, with one fraction for culture-based analysis (bacteria and fungi) and the rest of the sample was reserved for molecular analysis (viruses, bacteria, antibiotic resistance genes, and parasites). The reproducibility of the monitoring workflow was assessed for SARS-CoV-2 through inter-laboratory comparisons using the N2 and N1 assays. Identical protocols were applied to same-day samples, yielding similar positivity trends in the two laboratories, but the N2 assay achieved a significantly higher detection rate (Laboratory 1: 91.5 %; Laboratory 2: 87.4 %) than the N1 assay (76.6 %) monitored only in Laboratory 2 (McNemar, p < 0.001 Lab 1, = 0.006 Lab 2). This result indicates that the selection of monitoring primers and assays may impact monitoring sensitivity in WBS. Overall, the current study recommends that the selection of sampling frequencies and population coverage of the monitoring should be based on pathogen-specific epidemiological characteristics. For example, pathogens that are stable over time may need less frequent annual sampling, while those that are occurring across regions may require reduced sample coverage. Here, WastPan successfully piloted WBS for monitoring multiple pathogens, highlighting the significance of one-litre community composite wastewater samples for assessing community health. The infrastructure established for COVID-19 WBS is valuable for monitoring various pathogens. The prioritization of the monitoring targets optimizes resource utilization. In the future legislative support in target selection, coverage determination, and sustained funding for WBS is recomended.

Category: Other

Category: Public Health

Research Area: Environmental virus profiling

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38467259

DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.171401

Crossref 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.171401

pii: S0048-9697(24)01542-0

Publications 9.5.0