ISS: traces of coronaviruses already in December in the waters of Milan and Turin

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The samples taken in the purifiers of urban centers in Northern Italy, were used as a “spy” of the circulation of the virus in the population

by Nicola Barone

The coronavirus map in Italy, a participated project

The samples taken in the purifiers of urban centers in Northern Italy, were used as a “spy” of the circulation of the virus in the population

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Traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the waste waters of Milan and Turin as early as December 2019. This was highlighted in a study being published by the Higher Institute of Health carried out through the analysis of waste water collected in times prior to the manifestation of Covid-19 in Italy. The samples taken in the purifiers of urban centers in Northern Italy were used as a “spy” of the circulation of the virus in the population.

The specificity of the research

The research can help understand the beginning of the circulation of the virus in Italy and provides information consistent with other results obtained from the retrospective analysis on samples of hospitalized patients in France, who identified a SARS-CoV-2 positive in a respiratory sample , therefore clinical, dating back to the end of December 2019, and to a recent Spanish work that found SARS-CoV-2 RNA in waste water samples collected in mid-January in Barcelona, ​​about 40 days before the notification of the first indigenous case . The ISS study examined 40 wastewater samples collected from October 2019 to February 2020, and 24 control samples for which the sampling date (September 2018 – June 2019) allowed to safely exclude the presence of the virus. .

Pilot study on priority sites

«Since 2007 with my group we carry out research in environmental virology and collect and analyze samples of waste water taken at the entrance of purification plants», explains Giuseppina La Rosa of the Department of water quality and health of the Department of the environment and health of the Higher Institute of Health which conducted the study in collaboration with Elisabetta Suffredini of the Department of Food Safety, Nutrition and Veterinary Public Health. Lucia Bonadonna, director of the Department of Environment and Health of the Higher Institute of Health explains that a proposal for action has been presented to the Ministry of Health for the launch of a surveillance network on SARS-CoV-2 in waste water, and already in the July a pilot study will be possible on priority sites identified in tourist locations.



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