Is Salmonella in My Drinking Water Unsafe?

Glass of water

Salmonella is a bacterial resident found in the intestinal tracts of many species ranging from birds and reptiles to livestock. When consumed by humans through contaminated food or liquids, it can result in salmonellosis, a condition characterized by fever, severe intestinal distress, diarrhea, and vomiting. Salmonella can enter human hosts through consumption of undercooked eggs or poultry, through contaminated produce that is not thoroughly cleaned before consumption, and through improperly treated drinking water.

In order to detect the presence of salmonella in a drinking water source, such as a well or spring, testing must be conducted by a facility such as a private water testing lab. Private water testing laboratories can help you identify the potential threat posed by salmonella contamination so that it can be remediated before illness occurs. Keep reading to learn more about how your can determine if salmonella is a threat to your drinking water supply and how to go about removing it.

How Salmonella Enters the Water Supply

Salmonella is widespread and knows no geographic or climactic boundaries. It can be found in both hot and cold climates, and is present in the digestive tracks of birds, reptiles, and many mammals. Therefore, salmonella can enter any surface water supply simply through contact with native wildlife or livestock. For subterranean water sources, such as wells and springs, water contaminated with salmonella must somehow percolate into the well through a leak. Water containing salmonella can come from a variety of sources, including agricultural runoff, sewage leaks, or stormwater runoff. Wells can also become contaminated by salmonella after flood or other natural disasters.

How to Find Salmonella in Drinking Water

Salmonella is visible and odorless, so it is undetectable to the human senses. Therefore, the only way to confirm the presence of salmonella in a source of drinking water is with water testing. While some states may offer public water testing services, in most areas water testing is conducted by private laboratories. The best private water testing lab reports will offer a detailed accounting of all contaminants in your drinking water so that remediation can be performed to bring water quality into an acceptable range.

Water testing

How to Remove Salmonella from Drinking Water

If you suspect that your drinking water may be contaminated with salmonella, contact a private water testing laboratory to conclusively determine the presence of salmonella in your water. In the meantime, make sure that you don’t consume water directly without treating it first. You can boil it at a rolling boil for a full minute for immediate needs. You can also opt to use bottled water or water from another clean source until the contamination can be remediated.

To treat your drinking water source, you must undertake a multistep process to kill the salmonella in the water and restore it to safe standards. Chlorine must be added to the well to kill off the pathogen. If the contamination is severe, you may need multiple rounds of treatment to completely remediate the problem. After each round of chlorine treatment, be sure to retest the water. If the tests come back positive, another round of treatment will be necessary. There is currently no filter that can remove salmonella from drinking water. There are some UV light treatments available that can kill the bacteria, however.

If you believe that your drinking water may be contaminated with salmonella, immediately contact a private water testing lab to have your water tested. Once you have your results, take the proper steps to treat your water source and remember to boil all water to ensure that it’s sanitary.

To learn more about testing your water for salmonella or other contaminants, contact Environmental Testing and research Laboratories.