Abstract The ubiquitous nature of bacteria enables them to survive in a wide variety of environments. Hence, the rise of various pathogenic species that are harmful to human health raises the need for the development of accurate sensing systems. Sensing systems are necessary for diagnosis and epidemiological control of pathogenic organism, especially in the food-borne pathogen and sanitary water treatment facility׳s bacterial populations. Bacterial sensing for the purpose of diagnosis can function in three ways: bacterial morphological visualization, specific detection of bacterial component and whole cell detection. This paper provides an overview of the currently available bacterial detection systems that ranges from microscopic observation to state-of-the-art smartphone-based detection.