Indian Journal of Community Medicine

: 2007  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 157--158

Currency as fomites?

SV Jalgaonkar, Gopal Agrawal, Vaishali Rahangdale, SB Kokate 
 Department of Microbiology, Indira Gandhi Government Medical College, Nagpur, India

Correspondence Address:
S V Jalgaonkar
Department of Microbiology, Indira Gandhi Government Medical College, Nagpur

How to cite this article:
Jalgaonkar S V, Agrawal G, Rahangdale V, Kokate S B. Currency as fomites?.Indian J Community Med 2007;32:157-158

How to cite this URL:
Jalgaonkar S V, Agrawal G, Rahangdale V, Kokate S B. Currency as fomites?. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2007 [cited 2022 Aug 8 ];32:157-158
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Full Text

Currency which is handled by large numbers of people, under a variety of personal and environmental conditions, can be a source of infection. Even though it may be almost impossible to trace the source of infection, coins and currency notes may carry potentially pathogenic organisms and serve as fomites in the transmission of infection. A study by Singh et al . has demonstrated pathogenic organisms from currency. [1] Bacillus species were found to be the predominant organisms (38%). Other organisms isolated were coagulase-negative staphylococci, β-haemolytic streptococci, a-haemolytic streptococci, Staphylococcus aureus , Escherichia coli , Klebsiella species, Proteus species, and fungi such as Candida and Aspergillus .

We carried out a study on 100 coins and 60 currency notes for the presence of bacterial flora. Currency and coins of the years ranging from 1975 to 2003 were included in the study. Broth enrichment of coins was done for 4 h. Broth-wetted swabs rubbed on both sides of the notes were also enriched for 4 h. Culture of bacteria was done by standard techniques. [2] Bacillus species was the only organism grown from 32 of the 100 (32%) coins. There was no difference in the number of isolates in relation to the age of the coin. The same organism was also grown from 4 out of the 60 currency notes (6.67 %).

Our results indicate that currency does not carry potentially pathogenic bacteria. The role of fomites is in the transmission of organisms from patients who harbor these organisms. Currency is usually handled by healthy, ambulatory persons and less likely by patients. Opportunistic pathogens, if at all they are present, infect only the susceptible population. Moreover, the number of bacteria may not be sufficient to act as an infective dose.

More studies, in different environmental setups, are necessary before any conclusions are made regarding the role of currency in the transmission of infection.


1Singh DV, Thakur K, Goel KA. Microbiological surveillance of currency. Indian J Med Microbiol 2002;20:53.
2Collee JG, Miles RS, Watt B. Tests for the identification of bacteria, Chapter 7. In : Mackie and McCartney Practical medical microbiology, 14 th ed. Collee JG, Fraser AG, Marmion BP, Simmions A, editors. Churchill Livingstone: 1996. p. 131-49.