Biomedicine and Biotechnology
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Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2014, 2(3), 46-53
DOI: 10.12691/bb-2-3-2
Open AccessArticle

Microbial Contamination of Currency Notes and Coins in Circulation: A Potential Public Health Hazard

Agersew Alemu1,

1School of Biomedical and Laboratory Sciences, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, P.O. Box 196, Gondar, Ethiopia

Pub. Date: October 26, 2014

Cite this paper:
Agersew Alemu. Microbial Contamination of Currency Notes and Coins in Circulation: A Potential Public Health Hazard. Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2014; 2(3):46-53. doi: 10.12691/bb-2-3-2


Background: A Paper currency note is widely exchanged for goods and services in countries worldwide and it was first developed in China. An individual living in unhygienic conditions having unhygienic habits will contaminate the notes with bacteria and these notes will act as a vehicle delivering bacteria to contaminate the hands of the next user. improper hand washing after using the toilet, counting paper notes using saliva, coughing and sneezing on hands then exchanging money, and placement or storage of paper notes on dirty surfaces leads to the contamination and these notes will act as a vehicle delivering bacteria to contaminate the hands of the next user. The money makes for easy transfer of microorganisms and thus cross contamination. Paper notes of currency which is handled by a large number of people, under a variety of personal and environmental conditions thus increase the possibility of acting as environmental vehicle for the transmission of potential pathogenic microorganisms. Accumulated data obtained over the last 20 years on the microbial status and survival of pathogen on currency notes indicate that this could represent a potential cause of sporadic cases of food borne illness. The lower the index values of the money, the higher the microbial contamination of the currency. They further showed that the age of the notes and the material that was used to produce the notes influence the number of microbial contamination. Lower denomination notes harbor the greatest bulk of infectious agents since they are exchanged more than higher denomination notes. Several studies have reported bacterial contamination from 60% to as much as 100% on tested paper currencies. Study conducted on India rupee, Bangladesh Teka, Iraqi and Ghanaian Currency Notes were contaminated with 100% by pathogenic or potentially pathogenic bacteria. Eighty-eight percent of the Saudi one Riyal paper note, 96.25% of Palestine banknote, 69% of Mexico, 91.1% Colombian bills, 90% of South African banknotes were contaminated with pathogenic or potentially pathogenic bacteria with mixed bacterial growth. Currency notes in circulation are contaminated with various microbial agents of which most are resistant to commonly used antibiotics and therefore represents risks and public health hazards to the community and individuals handling currency notes.

contamination ethiopian currency (birr) antibiotics resistant sensitivity bacterial species

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