October 25, 2023 – Monitoring wastewater for signs of the influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) could help public officials better respond to upcoming surges this fall and winter, according to Bill Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
In an October 16 op-ed in Fortune, Hanage noted that testing wastewater for the presence of COVID-19 and other viruses has previously proved effective for tracking the spread of infection early, before other methods detected changes. He wrote that proactively using the same method for flu and RSV could give public health officials key information such as where vaccines are most needed, potentially decreasing infections and hospitalizations.
“By testing for viruses like influenza and RSV, we can significantly improve public health across our country and completely reimagine how our cities, hospitals, and families prepare for and deal with cold and flu season,” he wrote.