Salmonella and Drinking Water from Private Wells

What is salmonellosis?

Salmonellosis is an infection caused by the bacteria called Salmonella, which has been known to cause illness for more than 100 years. There are many different kinds of Salmonella bacteria, and they are spread through human or animal feces.

For more information about salmonellosis and its treatment, please visit CDC’s Salmonella website.

Where and how does Salmonella get into drinking water?

Salmonella is found in every region of the United States and throughout the world. Millions of germs can be released in a bowel movement of an infected human or animal. Salmonella may be found in water sources such as private wells that have been contaminated with the feces of infected humans or animals. Waste can enter the water through different ways, including sewage overflows, sewage systems that are not working properly, polluted storm water runoff, and agricultural runoff. Wells may be more vulnerable to such contamination after flooding, particularly if the wells are shallow, have been dug or bored, or have been submerged by floodwater for long periods of time.

How can I find out whether there is Salmonella in my drinking water?

If you suspect a problem and your drinking water comes from a private well, you may contact your state certification officerexternal icon for a list of laboratories in your area that will perform tests on drinking water for a fee.

How do I remove Salmonella from my drinking water?

To kill or inactivate Salmonella, bring your water to a rolling boil for one minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes) Water should then be allowed to cool, stored in a clean sanitized container with a tight cover, and refrigerated. Currently, there is no filter certified to remove bacteria from water. This issue is being studied.

You may also disinfect your well; contact your local health department for recommended procedures. Remember to have your well water tested regularly, at least once a year, after disinfection to make sure the problem does not recur.