Paper currency and coins may be a public health risk when associated with the simultaneous handling of food and could lead to the spread of nosocomial infections. Banknotes recovered from hospitals may be highly contaminated by Staphylococcus aureus. Salmonella species, Escherichia coli and S. aureus are commonly isolated from banknotes from food outlets. Laboratory simulations revealed that methicillin-resistant S. aureus can easily survive on coins, whereas E. coli, Salmonella species and viruses, including human influenza virus, Norovirus, Rhinovirus, hepatitis A virus, and Rotavirus, can be transmitted through hand contact. Large-scale, 16S rRNA, metagenomic studies and culturomics have the capacity to dramatically expand the known diversity of bacteria and viruses on money and fomites. This review summarizes the latest research on the potential of paper currency and coins to serve as sources of pathogenic agents.
Future Microbiol. 2014;9(2):249-261. © 2014 Future Medicine Ltd.