LOGAN, UTAH (ABC4 News) – Utah State University is testing over 200 individuals on campus after finding COVID-19 in their sewage.

Students are in quarantine after leaders at Utah State University found COVID-19 in wastewater in residence halls on campus.

“We started doing this in July after working with U DEQ since April, monitoring wastewater in sewage treatment plants in municipalities across the state,” said Dr. Keith Roper, the department head of biological engineering at USU.

The four dorms affected are Rich, Jones, Morgan and Davis on the north side of campus.

“Wastewater monitoring is an early alert tool, it’s been shown to provide an early indicator of both the prevalence in a community as well as the rate of increase or decrease,” said Dr. Roper.

Dr. Keith Roper tells ABC4, for this study, a device collects sewage that is brought to the lab on campus and disinfected for research. Data comes up, before some individuals may experience symptoms of COVID-19 and before they get tested.

“It gives us a way to proactively deal with that in a way to minimize the impact, the negative impact, that could have on our students and faculty and staff,” he added.

Dr. Roper says this could help other universities in the state and around the country, find indications before clinical cases emerge from the virus and contain sick individuals. Leaders from the university say food will be delivered to students in quarantine, to prevent further spread.

The next steps for the university is possible contact tracing. The university is working with the local health department. Dr. Roper says the university plans to continue to monitor waste on campus throughout the remainder of the semester.

Learn more about sewage monitoring in the state.

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