Near-source passive sampling for monitoring viral outbreaks within a university residential setting

Kata Farkas*, Jessica L. Kevill, Latifah Adwan, Alvaro Garcia-Delgado, Rande Dzay, Jasmine M.S. Grimsley, Kathryn Lambert-Slosarska, Matthew J. Wade, Rachel C. Williams, Javier Martin, Mark Drakesmith, Jiao Song, Victoria McClure, Davey L. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has proven to be a powerful tool for the population-level monitoring of pathogens, particularly severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). For assessment, several wastewater sampling regimes and methods of viral concentration have been investigated, mainly targeting SARS-CoV-2. However, the use of passive samplers in near-source environments for a range of viruses in wastewater is still under-investigated. To address this, near-source passive samples were taken at four locations targeting student hall of residence. These were chosen as an exemplar due to their high population density and perceived risk of disease transmission. Viruses investigated were SARS-CoV-2 and its variants of concern (VOCs), influenza viruses, and enteroviruses. Sampling was conducted either in the morning, where passive samplers were in place overnight (17 h) and during the day, with exposure of 7 h. We demonstrated the usefulness of near-source passive sampling for the detection of VOCs using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and next-generation sequencing (NGS). Furthermore, several outbreaks of influenza A and sporadic outbreaks of enteroviruses (some associated with enterovirus D68 and coxsackieviruses) were identified among the resident student population, providing evidence of the usefulness of near-source, in-sewer sampling for monitoring the health of high population density communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2024

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© The Author(s), 2024.


  • enteric viruses
  • passive sampler
  • public health
  • respiratory viruses
  • university campus


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