While natural disasters such as tsunamis or floods often leave local water sources tainted with harmful bacteria, the existing tests for contamination take almost three days to produce a result.
But, the new test takes just half an hour and makes the testing process a lot faster and economical, reports New Scientist.
For detecting the contaminants, antibodies attached to tiny magnets are added to the water.
Thus, when bacteria in the sample bind to the antibodies, they can be easily concentrated with a magnet.
The resulting sample is then injected into a "bubble pack," which contains chemicals that break open the bacteria, making their RNA to escape.
Then, the RNA is amplified by using an enzyme specially modified to work at close to room temperature.
An electrochemical sensor can thus easily detect the amplified RNA even if very few bacteria are present.