Genomic analysis and surveillance of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) using wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE)

Danielle M Allen*, Marina I Reyne, Pearce Allingham, Ashley Levickas, Stephen H Bell, Jonathan Lock, Jonathon D Coey, Stephen Carson, Andrew J Lee, Cormac McSparron, Behnam Firoozi Nejad, James McKenna, Mark Shannon, Kathy Li, Tanya Curran, Lindsay J Broadbent, Damian G Downey, Ultan F Power, Helen E Groves, Jennifer M McKinleyJohn W McGrath, Connor G G Bamford, Deirdre F Gilpin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes severe infections in infants, immunocompromised or elderly individuals resulting in annual epidemics of respiratory disease. Currently, limited clinical surveillance and the lack of predictable seasonal dynamics limits the public health response. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has recently been used globally as a key metric in determining prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in the community but its application to other respiratory viruses is limited. In this study, we present an integrated genomic WBE approach, applying RT-qPCR and partial G-gene sequencing to track RSV levels and variants in the community. We report increasing detection of RSV in wastewater concomitant with increasing numbers of positive clinical cases. Analysis of wastewater-derived RSV sequences permitted identification of distinct circulating lineages within and between seasons. Altogether, our genomic WBE platform has the potential to complement ongoing global surveillance and aid the management of RSV by informing the timely deployment of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Infectious Diseases
Early online date18 Apr 2024
Publication statusEarly online date - 18 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America.


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