Effective surveillance for epidemic-prone viral diseases is essential for emergency preparedness to respond to threats and occurrences of pandemics. While it is difficult and expensive to conduct health facility-based surveillance, there is a growing interest in conducting sewage-based epidemiological studies to monitor the health of the urban population because of the relative ease of sample collection and the availability of advanced molecular techniques for the detection of pathogens in the sewage. Sewage samples offer unique means to study the aggregate health of the population as opposed to the monitoring of the health of any individual by traditional methods. We worked together with the Ministry of Public Works in Kuwait and developed a platform for the collection and testing of sewage samples from different regions of Kuwait for studying population health. In this report, we describe the results of a cross-sectional study conducted between 16 and 23 September 2019 in an attempt to detect influenza, Noro, Rota, hepatitis A, and hepatitis E viruses in urban sewage samples collected in Kuwait. All five targeted viruses were detected in the samples collected from urban wastewater in Kuwait using reverse-transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). We recently checked for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the stored cDNA samples and confirmed the absence of SARS-CoV-2 in them. This is the first report that demonstrates the preparedness in Kuwait for using sewage samples for the detection and monitoring of many pathogenic viruses which may greatly increase the capacity of the country to deal with a viral disease outbreak in the future.
© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.