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

Fomites & Money in the Spread of Food-borne Outbreaks

Evidence for the transmission of pathogens through contact with fomites is provided by food-borne outbreaks.[3] Foods can become contaminated with pathogens at any point during their production, processing and preparation. In many food outlets, workers handle money and prepare food at the same time. In addition, pathogens of the nose, throat, feces or skin can be transmitted by hands, highlighting the need for hand hygiene. Moreover, other barriers to pathogen contamination can be used, such as no hand contact with ready-to-eat food.[3]

The agents most likely to be transmitted by food workers are HAV, Norovirus, Shigella sp., Salmonella sp. and S. aureus.[4] In a recent study, the number of bacteria on banknotes obtained from food outlets varied widely within a single country and between individual countries.[11]Salmonella sp., E. coli and S. aureus were isolated from the banknotes of most countries.[11] In Bangladesh, banknotes collected from fish sellers, meat sellers, vegetable sellers, food vendors and shopkeepers were contaminated with E. coli, Klebsiella sp., Salmonella sp., S. aureus, Bacillus sp., Pseudomonas sp. and V. cholera; the highest numbers of isolates were recovered from currencies obtained from the fish and meat sellers.[21] In Nepal, 62% of the currency notes obtained from food sellers were found to be contaminated,[20] while in Kenya, banknotes collected from greengrocers, butchers, food kiosk/restaurant attendants and roast maize vendors were also highly contaminated.[22] In addition, yeast fungi, including A. niger, Penicillium spp., Candida spp. and Cryptococcus spp., were isolated from coins collected from butchers, maize roasters and food kiosk attendants in Kenya.[22] In summary, money collected from food sellers is highly contaminated, and the presence of infectious agents on banknotes or coins is indicative of poor hygiene in the person who recently handled the banknotes or coins. Moreover, the manner in which the banknotes or coins were kept in food outlets can influence the presence of these infectious agents on the currency.