Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Researchers broaden tactics to combat COVID-19 outbreaks

"Two pasteur pipettes in love" by n_sapiens is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Researchers at Michigan State University are working with local health departments to screen for coronavirus outbreaks. They’re even checking the water you flush down the toilet.

Researchers at MSU have been tracking viral infections like hepatitis in Detroit’s sewage water since 2017, but changed focus at the onset of the pandemic to screen for SARS-CoV-2.

Doctor Irene Xagoraraki leads the team. She says some of their models predict outbreaks two weeks before they are observed in clinics.

“This is much bigger than COVID-19 because we can continue doing this, we can screen for upcoming diseases and screen for the general health and also for immunity,” said Xagoraraki.

New state funding will allow Xagoraraki and her team to expand their viral detection program in Metro

Detroit, targeting zip codes where COVID-19 infections are high.