Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Christine Stauber, PhD

Second Advisor

Lisa Casanova, PhD

Third Advisor

Sheryl Strasser, PhD


INTRODUCTION: More than 1.8 million diarrheal disease deaths can be attributed to the lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene. These deaths occur mostly in developing countries where water quality testing resources are limited. Several tests are currently used to detect and quantify E. coli and other fecal coliforms in drinking water, however they can be expensive, complex, and technically demanding. There is a need for a simple, reliable, low-cost water quality test that can be used in resource limited settings. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to perform a rigorous evaluation of the recently developed compartment bag test for detection and quantification of E. coli against the standard method, membrane filtration.

METHODS AND RESULTS: A total of 270 water samples were collected from forty-five various naturally contaminated water sources around metro-Atlanta from August 2011 through April 2012 and processed using the compartment bag test and membrane filtration with mI agar. Concentrations of E. coli were significantly correlated with a correlation coefficient of 0.904 (95% CI 0.859 – 0.950). Sensitivity and specificity were 94.9% and 96.6%, respectively.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the compartment bag test produces results consistent with those produced by membrane filtration on mI agar. Based upon its performance, the compartment bag test has the potential to be used as a reliable, low-cost drinking water quality test globally where water quality testing resources are not readily available, and can be implemented in monitoring activities for microbial water quality.