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

Future Perspective

The capacity of banknotes, coins and fomites to serve as sources of pathogenic agents represents a major challenge in the 21st century. It is possible that the replacement of cotton-based banknotes by substrate material can play an important role in the reduction of bacterial concentration.[11] As often occurs during scientific progress, technological advances in microbiology can allow scientists to revisit the knowledge base. Large-scale 16S rRNA or metagenomic studies could allow scientists to dramatically expand the known diversity of contaminants on money and fomites.[72] In addition, 'microbial culturomics' studies, using different atmospheres, temperatures, pH, nutrients, minerals, antibiotics or phages can provide comprehensive culture conditions and significantly increase the number of different bacteria isolates from banknotes, coins and fomites.[72,73] Our knowledge of the potential role of currency in virus transmission is limited. In some studies, the enumeration of bacterial agents was difficult because their existence was below that of a typical detection for enumeration.[11] Concerning the presence of virus in currency, classical methods, including isolation and culture of the virus, can improve our knowledge, although frequently, the virus cannot be cultivated under laboratory conditions or the virus does not exhibit its characteristic cytopathic effects in culture.[74] Viral metagenomics are particularly suitable for providing a global overview of the diversity of the viral community and possess functional potential.[74]