To implement and evaluate the use of wastewater sampling for detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in two coastal districts of Buenos Aires Province, Argentina.
In General Pueyrredon district, 400 mL of wastewater samples were taken with an automatic sampler for 24 hours, while in Pinamar district, 20 L in total (2.2 L at 20-minute intervals) were taken. Samples were collected once a week. The samples were concentrated based on flocculation using polyaluminum chloride. RNA purification and target gene amplification and detection were performed using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for clinical diagnosis of human nasopharyngeal swabs.
In both districts, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 was detected in wastewater. In General Pueyrredon, SARS-CoV-2 was detected in epidemiological week 28, 2020, which was 20 days before the start of an increase in coronavirus virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the first wave (epidemiological week 31) and 9 weeks before the maximum number of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases was recorded. In Pinamar district, the virus genome was detected in epidemiological week 51, 2020 but it was not possible to carry out the sampling again until epidemiological week 4, 2022, when viral circulation was again detected.
It was possible to detect SARS-CoV-2 virus genome in wastewater, demonstrating the usefulness of the application of wastewater epidemiology for long-term SARS-CoV-2 detection and monitoring.