Many pathogens that infect humans use cell surface carbohydrates as receptors to facilitate cell-cell adhesion. The hallmark of these interactions is their multivalency, or the simultaneous occurrence of multiple interactions. We have used a carbohydrate-functionalized fluorescent polymer, which displays many carbohydrate ligands on a single polymer chain, to allow for multivalent detection of pathogens. Incubation of a mannose-functionalized polymer with Escherichia coli yields brightly fluorescent aggregates of bacteria. These results show that carbohydrate-functionalized fluorescent polymers are a versatile detection method for bacteria. Future design of detectors for other pathogens only requires information on the carbohydrates bound by the organisms, which has been exhaustively reported in the literature.