Traces of the novel coronavirus have been found in water samples taken from the beaches of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Duluth Campus.
Since July, researchers have collected water samples from eight different beaches in Duluth to better understand how the new virus “works in water and whether it can spread there,” the Star Tribune reported. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is “no evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to humans through water” in the oceans, lakes and other natural bodies of water, as well as swimming pools, water play areas and hot tubs.)
In September, researchers found traces of SARS-Cov-2 for the first time in water samples from Park Point, the beach at 42nd Avenue E. and Brighton Beach.
“The research team describes the detection level at 100 to 1,000 copies per liter or 10,000 times lower than levels seen in wastewater,” the researchers said, according to the Star Tribune.
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The source of the virus is unknown, according to the newspaper. But lead author of the study, Richard Melvin, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Duluth Campus at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, told local outlet KARE11 that swimmers could be responsible because infected people can spread the virus for up to even a month. after their symptoms have improved, he says.
“Understanding where to look for the virus is really essential to dealing with these types of infections in the future,” he said, echoing the CDC in saying that there is currently no evidence that people can contract the virus through water. “Knowing now that we can find it in lake water, this could be another indicator of the prevalence of the virus in the population that lives there. ”
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Researchers will continue to test water samples with additional funding from the Minnesota Sea Grant, which initially provided $ 10,000 for the study, according to the Star Tribune, which noted that officials from the Minnesota Department of Health , along with other experts, will help identify the source of the virus found in the water samples.