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Mobile phones have also been found to be new-age fomites.

Rs 10, Rs 20 and Rs 100 currency notes are infective

Taruni Gandhi
M4PNews Services| Chandigarh/Delhi

Be cautious with the rupee note in your wallet because Currency is ailing you. That money is dirtier than you think. Paper currency in India transmits a whole lot of genetic material from micro-organisms – bacteria, fungi and viruses – and certain of them might even be the antibiotic resilient variety. Recently in Delhi, Scientists at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology researched the microscopic environment of Rs 10, Rs 20 and Rs 100 currency notes which they collected from road retailers, grocery stores, snack bars, hardware shops. The same Study was conducted by PGIMER of Chandigarh, where doctors found serious skin infection in patient due to Dirty Currency. In their study, published in the international journal PLOS One, they found microscopic environment – or microbiome – of currency notes to be rife with DNA of pathogens.

Keeping it clean

A significant point to note is that the IGIB team found DNA from these pathogens on the currency notes, which may or may not be from live organisms on the notes. As the study says, “the mere presence of the genetic material from the pathogen would not necessarily mean the sample is infective, though the presence of genetic material would necessarily mean the sample was contaminated at some point in time.”

The part of the currency note here is one of a fomite – an item that is capable of moving an infectious agent from one individual to another. Skin, hair, clothing and bedding are some common fomites. Mobile phones have also been found to be new-age fomites. You cannot become ill just by holding a currency note that is carrying a pathogen but there is a strong case for cleaning your hands between the everyday tasks of handling money and eating.

Furthermore to DNA from infectious agents, the investigators also found DNA of 13 kinds of cellulose humiliating bacteria on the notes, the kind that digest paper and might take a note out of circulation faster from said Dr Raghuachrya, Community Medicine, Delhi AIIMS.

One way to reduce the risk of spreading infection through banknotes is to switch to plastic. Countries like Canada, Australia and the UK have started putting polymer banknotes into circulation. The other is to use credit and debit cards that don’t pass through so many other hands.


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