The analysis of wastewater showed that COVID-19 penetrated to Italy in mid-December last year. As reported by BBC with reference to the national Institute of health in Italy (ISS), traces of coronavirus RNA was detected in 18 Dec collected samples of sewage from Turin and Milan. Although these cases may not have direct connection with the subsequent wave of infections, they help to reconstruct the first stages of a devastating outbreak, which has claimed the lives of 35 thousand people.
Recent studies have shownthat the analysis of sewage sludge allows to predict the outbreak of a coronavirus infection COVID-19 a few days before it started. Unlike traditional testing, this approach gives enough time to prepare for the peak incidence.
However, untreated sewage water can be used in order to reconstruct the history of previous waves of the pandemic — for example, to know exactly when the virus entered a particular region. Experts from the National Institute of health, Italy led by an expert on water quality by Giuseppina La Rosa (Giuseppina La Rosa) have used this technique to find out when the first cases COVID-19 appeared in major cities in the North of the country.
The researchers analyzed 40 samples of wastewater collected at wastewater treatment plants in the region from October 2019 to February 2020. In the October and November samples, no traces of viral RNA were found. However, they were detected in samples from 18 December from Milan and Turin. In Bologna, according to the analysis of wastewater, contaminated appeared on January 29.
According to official data, flash COVID-19 began in Italy much later. On January 31 the first cases of infection were identified in Rome, two tourists from China. And on February 22 in the country died the first patients with this disease.
For some reason, Italy has been affected by the pandemic coronavirus stronger than most European countries: in total, the pandemic’s victims here were about 35 thousand people. The authors hope that their work will help to understand what were the first stages of this devastating outbreak. However, they warn that the December cases may not have direct connection with the subsequent wave of infections.
Meanwhile, other European countries also reported that COVID-19 may, began to spread around the world earlier than previously thought. For example, in may, the French researchers statedthat the patient, who on December 27 received in one of the Paris hospitals with suspected pneumonia, in fact, was a coronavirus. And in Spain the analysis of wastewater from the treatment plant of Barcelona allowed us to detect traces of viral RNA in samples from the middle of January, that is, 40 days before the first officially recorded in the statistics of the case.
Although COVID-19 considered a disease of the upper respiratory tract, and it affects the cells of the gastrointestinal tract, causing diarrhea and vomiting. According to a recent study, these symptoms are most characteristic of children who contracted the coronavirus. The lung damage is found in them less frequently.
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