‘Microbe maps’: Swabbing subways, ATMs and park benches to find coronavirus hot spots

rpdtibahnnh iviw efr uyzq
MTA personnel clean a subway car in the Coney Island Yard. Credit: Sam Costanza/New York Daily News

Nearly a decade ago, after watching his young daughter lick a pole in a subway car, computational biologist Christopher Mason got the idea to start regularly swabbing the handrails, turnstiles, seats, and floors inside New York City’s metro system. Sequencing of these samples back in his lab at Cornell Weill led to the first map of the microbes that call the city’s transit system home.

[I]n 17 pilot cities, MetaSUB scientists started swabbing for traces of genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 as early as the first week of February. When subways shut down, they switched to other high-touch surfaces, like ATMs and park benches. So far, they’ve collected 3,600 samples.

Related article:  Living at high altitudes may offer natural defense against COVID-19

The goal of all this swabbing and sequencing is twofold: One, to better understand the virus’s transmission dynamics. How long does it stay alive on surfaces? How much of it is in the air? How risky is riding the subway, really? Answers to those kinds of questions can help public health officials make decisions now to protect citizens during the early stages of the pandemic. But the second aim is more long-term: detecting potential hot spots of infection in highly trafficked areas before people start showing up in emergency rooms.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend