RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Every time you flush, your stuff ends up at wastewater treatment facilities. Researchers across the state are collecting samples here to check for COVID-19 and monkeypox.

“A lot of people who are suffering symptoms from a lot of diseases are actually not likely to seek tests at the emergency room,” said Dr. Rachel Noble, distinguished professor at the UNC Institute for Marine Sciences.

Later this year, the state said they plan to include influenza and respiratory syncytial virus to the wastewater monitoring network. They’re considering adding polio but said they have no plans to launch that yet.

Nobel says people infected with COVID shed large amounts of viral particles into wastewater but it is not that’s the case with these other viruses.

“Because of that, it might be more difficult to actually detect,” said Nobel.

It’s why she said researchers are developing more accurate tests so they can capture smaller traces of monkeypox, influenza and RSV. Tests that are not sensitive enough may provide a false sense of security.

“It’s meaning that we’re portraying that a community doesn’t have any issue with a specific disease but its simply because the amount of wastewater that comes through this system is so large,” Noble said.

Her biggest concern right now is that we can’t monitor for everything all the time.

“In some cases, those resources may be better put back into communities by conducting vaccine education or making sure we provide free clinical tests,” she said.

She says making sure people are getting tested when they need to be remains key.

“I don’t actually see wastewater really replacing that clinical testing. I think they go hand in hand,” Noble said.

Explore the state’s current wastewater dashboard the tool below