Wastewater Epidemiology

Monitoring community health through wastewater analysis: Gator WATCH partnership with the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS)

Led by University of Florida faculty, Gator WATCH™ is a comprehensive program of Wastewater Analysis for Tracking Community Health. The program brings together a multidisciplinary team to develop and validate community wastewater analysis as a powerful new public health surveillance tool.

Previously focusing on surveillance of SARS-CoV-2, Gator WATCH™, led by Dr. Tara Sabo-Attwood, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental and Global Health, and Associate Dean of Faculty Development, Cultural Affairs, and Wellness Programs, is now expanding beyond infectious disease surveillance to new areas that include monitoring of illicit drugs through a newly forged partnership with the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Coordinating Center, directed by Dr. Linda Cottler, Associate Dean for Research at the College of Public Health and Health Professions, and Deans Professor of Epidemiology at the College of Public Health and Health Professions. ‘Real time’ data will be identified by measuring human excreted chemicals or biological surrogate molecules in wastewater. Initial efforts have led to the development for quantifying fentanyl and metabolites in wastewater collected from 4 NDEWS sentinel sites, and will be applied to a suite of over 70 other drug targets. Data trends will be released soon through our Weekly Briefing, and all reports will be stored here for reference.

The National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (U01DA051126) to the University of Florida (PI: Cottler; Co-Is: Goldberger, Nixon, Striley), New York University (Co-I: Palamar), and Florida Atlantic University (Co-I: Barenholtz).