Trent University and Peterborough Public Health have joined forces to participate in Ontario’s Wastewater Surveillance Initiative, aimed at identifying, managing and preventing potential COVID-19 outbreaks within the community.
“As home to one of the country’s leading DNA laboratories and an anchor in the Peterborough community, Trent University is proud to collaborate with Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and Peterborough Public Health to help inform the local response to COVID-19,” says Dr. Cathy Bruce, vice-president of Research and Innovation at Trent. “Data collected through this initiative will provide our leaders with additional information for decision making in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19.”
The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is supporting Trent and Peterborough Public Health in running testing and analysis on the samples. The province is investing over $12 million in the initiative, and has partnered with over 13 academic institutions, public health units and municipalities to help identify COVID-19 trends within their community.
“I’m confident that the early detection COVID-19 in local wastewater will become a critical tool in our fight against the pandemic,” says Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, medical officer of health of Peterborough Public Health. “This collaboration with Trent gives our community a significant advantage so we can target our containment efforts even more effectively.”
Measuring COVID-19 indicators in wastewater could serve as an early warning sign for current outbreaks. Studies have shown that people infected with COVID-19 shed the virus in their stool, sometimes even before they become symptomatic.
Along with other clinical and public health data, the wastewater surveillance performed by Trent will allow Peterborough Public Health to observe transmission trends within the community and allow for targeted surveillance of areas identified as priorities by public health.
“This initiative is creating infrastructure at Trent to allow for sustained surveillance of wastewater that might include other pathogens moving forward,” says Dr. Christopher Kyle, professor of Forensics and director of the Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Centre at Trent University performing this work. “We are establishing protocols and relationships with other academic institutions and national bodies, including other universities and the National Microbiology Laboratory, enabling enhanced pathogen surveillance to provide additional layers of information to inform Public Health.”
Trent University has completed its initial proficiency testing and submitted preliminary reports to Peterborough Public Health. Samples are currently being collected from the Peterborough Wastewater Plant and at several locations on Trent’s Symons Campus, with plans to expand sampling to other locations within the City of Peterborough in the next few weeks, including retirement homes. With proficiencies and infrastructure now in place, Professor Kyle hopes to accelerate sampling and reporting. Staff at the Peterborough Wastewater Plant have also played a key role in helping to collect samples from the plant and assisting in mapping out effective sampling locations at additional sites.
Community members are encouraged to reach out to Peterborough Public Health for more information on this initiative.
About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
For more information contact:
Cara Walsh, communications & media relations officer, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 x6240 or firstname.lastname@example.org