In Depth: Wastewater and Disease

In our first segment, Hal Eisner is joined by Dr. Adam Smith, Associate Professor in the Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering AT USC. 

Smith led a team that investigates wastewater in local treatment plants. He talks about how the testing works, why it’s important and how it became a standard during the COVID-19 epidemic.

In our second segment, Smith tells Hal about an antibiotic resistant bacterium that they discovered in our local wastewater.  Smith says this bacterium is resistant to a "last resort" antibiotic, that is, one that is used when all others fail.

Smith explains what this means, why bacteria become drug-resistant and how this impacts other bacteria.

In our third segment, Dr. Matthew Waxman, Emergency Medicine professor and physician, joins Hal to talk about recent outbreaks of Norovirus, who is susceptible and how to avoid catching it. 

Waxman says this is one case where hand sanitizer does not work, and hand-washing is essential. He also discussed a growing incidence of a fungus called Candida Auris. Waxman says it is a problem generally in hospitals and clinical settings and that it is unlikely to be widespread in the community.

He also offers us an update on the spread of COVID-19 and the recent decision by the FDA to offer another booster shot to older and immune-compromised individuals.