It took nearly two years and $189 million to clean up one of seven buildings contaminated with Anthrax-causing bacterial spores in 2001. A main component of clean up after a biological release is understanding how far a contaminant spreads and whether it is present in affected locations. Traditional methods to determine presence of a biological agent are labor-, cost-, and time-intensive, which slows down decision-making necessary for recovery. In the event of a biothreat release, thousands of environmental samples, such as surface, air, and water, may need to be analyzed rapidly. Therefore, the need for rapid viability testing methods are a priority to assist with responding to biothreats as well as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed Rapid Viability PCR (RV-PCR) methods, which can determine the presence or absence of live biothreat agents such as the bacteria causing anthrax, plague, and tularemia. This webinar will discuss historical aspects of viability testing methods and how they led to RV-PCR methods. It will also discuss how prior research assisted in the development of Rapid Viability Reverse Transcriptase PCR method for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and how it may be used in future pandemics.