Wastewater samples from Shreveport recently have shown a major increase in COVID cases here in Northwest Louisiana. The Center for Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats at LSU Health Shreveport has been monitoring samples.

“You can typically see a spike in SARS-Co-V-2 levels maybe about two weeks or so before cases in the community start to spike because people don’t even realize they are sick yet,” said Director of Viral Genomic and Surveillance Dr. Krista Queen of LSU Health.

Health experts are asking folks in the area to practice normal viral safety protocols such as washing hands, keeping your distance from those who are sick, and wearing masks in crowded areas. With COVID this is important because you may be spreading the virus without having any symptoms.

When individuals are infected this virus begins replicating in their bodies even before they know they are sick.

“One of the places it replicates significantly is in the gastrointestinal tract and then it sheds when the individual uses the restroom,” said Dr. Queen.

This uptick in the virus is very similar to what was seen last year. The rise in cases is linked to large family gatherings over the holiday weekend. COVID spreads with close contact to those infected. Some of the variants can infect you even if you've had the virus recently.

“What we’re also seeing is that the variants that are circulating some of them are more likely to cause reinfection, even if you’ve had a COVID-19 infection pretty recently,” said Queen.

Even though the wastewater samples are from Shreveport, Queen said it’s indicative of the area in terms of community spread.

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