Letter to Editor: Microbial Contamination of Currency


Fabricio Motteran 1 , *

1 Department of Hydraulics and Sanitation, Engineering School of Sao Carlos, University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil

How to Cite: Motteran F. Letter to Editor: Microbial Contamination of Currency, Int J Health Life Sci. 2018 ; 4(1):e79609. doi: 10.5812/ijhls.79609.


International Journal of Health and Life Sciences: 4 (1); e79609
Published Online: January 28, 2018
Article Type: Letter
Received: December 10, 2017
Accepted: January 10, 2018

Banknotes and coins are widely used throughout the world. They are exchanged and they come into contact with different environments and many different individuals during their circulation. Therefore, they can become contaminated with microorganisms and transfer bacteria across environments. Unhealthy conditions and unhealthy habits such as counting bills using saliva from the mouth to dampen the fingers can facilitate the transmission of microbial contamination (1, 2). These contaminations may be directly transmitted through contact with money by the hands or indirectly through exposure to food, water, or other objects (3). Based on some studies, the most commonly found microorganisms on the surfaces of banknotes and currency are Bacillus and Staphylococcus aurous species (4).

However, there is no evidence of any report of an outbreak of disease due to contaminated money (3). Referring to the literature, developing countries have the highest rates of money contamination. Vriesekoop et al. (2010) reported the contamination of coins and paper bills and found they were polluted with pathogenic agents such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Klebsiella introbacterin (5). Also, in a similar study, about 93 species of bacteria belonging to Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Enterobacter, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Diptheroids, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia vulneris were detected on banknotes (6). Alemu (2014) reported that there was a bacterial contamination rate ranging from 60% to 100% on paper currency (7). Also, Alemu reported that the Bangladesh, India, Iraqi, Ghanaian, Saudi, Palestine, Mexico, Colombian, and South African banknotes and currency were contaminated with pathogenic and potentially pathogenic microorganisms. Thus, although there is sufficient information indicating money can transmit infections, the use of coins and banknotes in trading and business is a common occurrence. So, what should be done?

Uses of various types of credit cards in business and trading systems can decrease the number of transactions using banknotes and coins. Other suggestions are online shopping and using money counter devices instead of hand counting money.


  • 1.

    Lamichhane J, Adhikary S, Gautam P, Maharjan R, Dhakal B. Risk of handling paper currency in circulation chances of potential bacterial transmittance. Nepal J Sci Technol. 2009;10:161-6.

  • 2.

    Uneke CJ, Ogbu O. Potential for parasite and bacteria transmission by paper currency in Nigeria. J Environ Health. 2007;69(9):54-60. [PubMed: 17506357].

  • 3.

    Prasai T, Yami KD, Joshi DR. Microbial load on paper/polymer currency and coins. Nepal J Sci Technol. 2008;9:105-9.

  • 4.

    Xu J, Moore JE, Millar BC. Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) identification of the culturable bacterial flora on monetary coinage from 17 currencies. J Environ Health. 2005;67(7):51-5. [PubMed: 15794464].

  • 5.

    Vriesekoop F, Russell C, Alvarez-Mayorga B, Aidoo K, Yuan Q, Scannell A, et al. Dirty money: an investigation into the hygiene status of some of the world's currencies as obtained from food outlets. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2010;7(12):1497-502. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2010.0606. [PubMed: 20704502].

  • 6.

    Ahmed MSU, Parveen S, Nasreen T, Feroza B. Evaluation of the microbial contamination of Bangladesh paper currency notes (Taka) in circulation. Adv Biol Res. 2010;4(5):266.

  • 7.

    Alemu A. Microbial contamination of currency notes and coins in circulation: A potential public health hazard. Biomedicine Biotechnol. 2014;2(3):46-53.

  • Copyright © 2018, International Journal of Health and Life Sciences. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited