Paper Money and Coins as Potential Vectors of Transmissible Disease

Emmanouil Angelakis; Esam I Azhar; Fehmida Bibi; Muhammad Yasir; Ahmed K Al-Ghamdi; Ahmad M Ashshi; Adel G Elshemi; Didier Raoult


Future Microbiol. 2014;9(2):249-261. 

In This Article


In this review, we show that contaminated money and coins are a public health risk when associated with the simultaneous handling of food, and currency may spread nosocomial infections. We have highlighted the potential for banknotes and coins to carry bacteria and fungi, as well as their potential capacity to spread infectious agents. In addition, banknotes and monetary coinage can act as potential reservoirs for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA.[2] Many food handlers do not give much attention to hygienic practices, and money recovered from food handlers was highly contaminated. As a result, the presence of pathogens, such as E. coli and Salmonella spp., in currency can be potentially detrimental. E. coli and Salmonella spp. are indicators of poor hygiene and sanitation standards, and typically associated with fecal contamination. Studies highlight the importance of humidity in the organism fomite-to-finger transfer efficiency rates but there are no standard methods for quantifying transfer rates in the organism fomite-to-finger transfer, and it is difficult to compare the results from various studies.[47] Unwashed hands resulted in greater fomite-to-finger microbial transfer efficiencies. It is possible that the changes in moisture level and pH on skin from hand washing or other residual effects from soap may contribute to this effect.[71] Therefore, important bacterial transfer efficiency can possibly result after handling money under unwashed-hand conditions. As a result, we reinforced the need for good hand hygiene after handling money, especially when simultaneously handling food and money.