E.coli detection kit now available at nominal price

MONSOON brings with it an increased chance of flooding of low lying areas, and water contamination. Researchers at IIT-Kanpur have now developed a simple and cost-effective testing kit to detect E.coli bacteria mixed in water within 24 hours at a nominal cost.

Escherichia coli (E.coli) is a bacterial strain that is commonly found in the intestines of people and animals, fecal waste of cattle and humans. The most common manner in which this bacteria contaminates water is if there is a leak in the sewage pipelines in a locality. Consumption of water contaminated with E.coli can cause diarrhoea, digestive issues, urinary tract infection and vomiting. The world over, children have been found more vulnerable to diseases caused by this bacteria.

Developed under the Union Government’s Jal Jeevan Mission, the PadmaBio E.Coli testing box comes with two testing kits. These kits have been recently made commercially available at Rs 199. The box contains two test tubes, a small and a large one — both pre-filled with vials and gels. Water sample is first collected in the larger test tube and left aside for 20 hours. Thereafter, a small quantity from this is transferred to the smaller test tube and kept for four hours. If the sample in the smaller test tube changes colour, it is an indication of the presence of E.Coli.

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“Water testing for E.Coli can be done by anybody and does not require specific laboratory skills. An individual sample analysis can be deployed anywhere,” said Indra Sekhar Sen, associate professor at Department of Earth Science at IIT-Kanpur.

One of the advantages of this kit is that it detects biomarkers secreted only by E.coli bacteria and does not lead to colour change for the presence of other commonly found bacteria in tropical soils or water.  Hence, the tests can be more accurate with almost nil false positive reporting.

The researchers have gone a step further by providing a digital platform to input the results from specific geographical locations. The Earth Face Flow android application will allow the deploying agencies planning mass testing to report the test results in real-time, thus helping in initiation of swift measures and prevent further contamination of such quality compromised water in the affected localities.The digital platform further allows monitoring of bulk testing boxes dispatched, obtaining geo-tagged use and results — all of which will make the process transparent.

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