Forget Covid, the Las Vegas Strip May Have a New Health Problem

Las Vegas virus authorities are looking at sewage water to determine the spread of a new potentially deadly outbreak.

The last two years have taught epidemiologist a lot about real time surveillance of transmissible diseases.

One of the lessons learned is that sewage water can tell you a lot about a population.

So in response to the covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control launched the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) in September 2020.

The NWSS was created to coordinate and track the covid virus in wastewater samples collected across the country.

“This allows wastewater surveillance to serve as an early warning that COVID-19 is spreading in a community. Once health departments are aware, communities can act quickly to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the CDC says.

Wastewater surveillance can serve as an early warning system that can detect small changes in the prevalence of a disease. Epidemiologists from Yale were able to detect poliovirus in sewer water during the polio outbreak in the summer of 1939.

“This virus can be transported, for short distances at least, through the medium of flowing sewage,” Yale scientists concluded at the time.

n 2022, while covid has started to take a back seat to other public concerns, wastewater surveillance is now giving the CDC data on another potential outbreak that has resulted in California and New York City both declaring a state of emergency.

Monkeypox on the Strip

As of Aug. 1, there are 23 probable and confirmed cases of monkeypox in Clark County and the Southern Nevada Health District is looking through the poo to keep a handle on the situation.

“The good thing is that the monkeypox signal is relatively low and it is coming from strategic manholes that service segments of the Las Vegas Strip and from at least 1/15 wastewater treatment plants,” UNLV associate professor Dr. Edwin Oh told CBS8 in Las Vegas.