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Year : 2002  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 53

Microbiological surveillance of currency

Dept. of Microbiology, IGMC, Shimla - 171 003, H.P, India

Correspondence Address:
Dept. of Microbiology, IGMC, Shimla - 171 003, H.P, India

How to cite this article:
Singh D V, Thakur K, Kalpana, Goel A. Microbiological surveillance of currency. Indian J Med Microbiol 2002;20:53

How to cite this URL:
Singh D V, Thakur K, Kalpana, Goel A. Microbiological surveillance of currency. Indian J Med Microbiol [serial online] 2002 [cited 2021 Jan 27];20:53. Available from:

Dear Editor,
The present study was conducted in the department of microbiology at Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. One hundred currency notes, hundred coins of different denominations, fifty pens/pencils and fifty throat swabs from school going children were cultured. Both sides of the currency and surface of pens/pencils were swabbed using sterile cotton tipped swab moistened with sterile normal saline solution. Throat swabs were collected. The swabs were inoculated on blood agar, MacConkey agar and Sabouraud dextrose agar directly. Both sides of the currency and surface of pens/pencils were then wiped with “Microsheild scrub” (chlorhexidine gluconate 2.5% v/v and 70% v/v isopropyl alcohol), and after 10 minutes again processed by the same method to inoculate a similar set of media. The inoculated media was incubated at 37 °C and 25°C (for fungus) for 48 hours and then examined for growth. Various microorganisms isolated from currency, pens/pencils and throat swabs are shown in the [Table - 1].
Currency, pens and pencils disinfected with “Microshield scrub” did not yield any growth. There are various modes of transmission of infection. Fomites are responsible for the indirect transmission of infection. Various diseases like diphtheria, trachoma, gastroenteritis, whooping cough and pathogenic agents causing diarrhoea are known to be transmitted through fomites.[1] Currency might also be a fomite, playing an important role in the transmission of microorganisms and also in the spread of drug resistant strains in the community. In this era of HIV pandemic this deserves special attention.
In a study conducted by Venkatesh et al in1999 at Manglore (India),[2] on contaminated stethoscopes, Bacillus was isolated in 63% followed by coagulase negative staphylococci and Staphylococcus aureus. Candida species and Aspergillus species were detected in 14% and 11% samples respectively. He suggested regular disinfection of stethoscopes specially in nurseries and intensive care units where these may act as potential source of nosocomial infections.[3] Although there is no direct evidence that presence of microorganisms on currency results in infection, but still the strategies must be adopted to reduce the contamination of currency. These could be in the form of plastic currency, which can be washed easily. Australia was the first to do this in 1988.3 Other recommendation is the regular disinfection of currency deposited in banks and post offices by ultraviolet light or formalin vapors. The general awareness about the possibility of acquiring infection while applying saliva on fingers for counting currency notes and good personal hygiene must be created in the public. The possibility of getting infected by improper handling of currency is a potential hazard especially among children, who are known to swallow coins accidentally or just keep them in mouth while playing. Therefore, health awareness must be primarily directed towards children in the school itself through cartoons, stickers and other audio visual aids. 

 ~ References Top

1.Gilchrist MJR. Microbiological culturing of environmental and medical device surfaces. Epidemiologic and infection control microbiology. Manual of clinical Microbiology. American Society of Microbiology 1993; 11.10-11.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Venkatesh P, Valiathan R, Mauya PS. Contaminated Stethoscopes: A potential source of nosocomial infections. In: XXIII National Congress of IAMM. 1999: abstract no:154.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Science Notes. Windows, The Tribune 2000 July 21; Page 2 (col. 3).   Back to cited text no. 3    
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