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Can typhoid be filtered out of drinking water?

Water bottle with pure water

The short answer is "yes!" Be sure to get the typhoid vaccine before traveling to a developing country, but yes, typhoid and other bacteria can be filtered out of drinking water. If you don't know, typhoid is spread through contaminated food and water.

Water filtration

Here's what to watch out for: find a water filtration system that is portable enough to take with you on your trip but also has pores small enough to filter out bacteria. Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi, a form of bacteria.

You should be able to find information about whether it can filter out bacteria on the packaging. If the packaging or website doesn't mention bacteria, that means it can't filter it out. Find one that says it can. Our safe travel guide has links to travel supplies, such as water filters, from reliable suppliers.

Portable, travel-friendly water filters are usually all-in-one style (everything contained in a water bottle), or they may include an external hand-pump and hose. Select the one that is most convenient for you because convenience is often what can save your life. When things are too hard we cut corners and get into trouble.

Dealing with viruses as well

Viruses like norovirus (stomach flu), hepatitis A and E are also spread through the water but are too small to be picked up by most commercially available water filters, including many that filter out bacteria. What can be done in this case? Two things:

  1. Water purification. In addition to filtering your water, consider a purification method such as UV light or chemical purification.

  2. Extra fine water filtration. Some water filters have pores so small they can actually filter out viruses! This provides even better protection

  3. Boiling. Microorganisms can be destroyed by boiling. Some viruses such as Hep A are stubborn and may require boiling for up to a minute.

Parting thoughts

Get vaccinated before you go. But also take precautions such as water filtration to avoid contaminated food and water. This will ensure the best possible trip. Let us know if you have any questions!


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