Analysis of Pathogens in Wastewater in São Tomé and Príncipe in Full Progress

Over the past few months, the team of researchers from the BNITM and their project partners have established a wastewater monitoring system for viruses and antibiotic resistance in São Tomé.

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Doris Winter (BNITM) facilitating training on water sample preparation with the laboratory team at the LNR-TB. (Source: SURVIN-STP)

Wastewater monitoring system established to investigate the spread of pathogens in the population
The aim is to use a wastewater-based surveillance system to investigate the spread of pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2, hepatitis A and enteroviruses, as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the population of São Tomé in the long term. Wastewater-based surveillance is a method that serves very well as a supplement to the surveillance of clinical cases of disease. By detecting pathogens in wastewater, conclusions can be drawn about the transmission of these pathogens in the population, which otherwise would not have been detected at all or sometimes very late. Furthermore, the occurrence and patterns of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (e.g., certain E. coli variants) in the population can be investigated and their long-term development monitored.

Since the beginning of 2023, the SURVIN-STP team, in cooperation with BNITM, has developed further a wastewater monitoring system for SARS-CoV-2 as it was set up in the previous GHPP project SToP-CoV. By extending its capacities, it now includes the surveillance of other viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in São Tomé.

To this end, BNITM staff travelled to São Tomé to facilitate several training sessions on sample collection and molecular biological and microbiological analyses at the Laboratório Nacional de Referência da Tuberculose (LNR-TB; National Reference Laboratory for Tuberculosis).

  • Kathrin Schuldt
  • Theresa Habermann
Image 1/3:
The team after successful collection of wastewater samples in a residential area. (Source: SURVIN-STP)
Image 2/3:
A member of the project team in protective gear collecting wastewater samples. (Source: SURVIN-STP)
Image 3/3:
Wastewater samples are being analysed in the laboratory. (Source: SURVIN-STP)

The LNR-TB team currently collects environmental samples twice a month at six locations in the capital city of São Tomé in residential and nearby central market areas as well as at educational institutions. The samples are then analysed in the laboratory by means of real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the presence of viral pathogens, and the number of antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria is determined.

The results are transmitted by the LNR-TB to the country’s Ministry of Health, which then can respond with informed and prompt interventions if necessary.

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