South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
IGUMBOR, E.O. et al. Microbiological analysis of banknotes circulating in the Venda region of Limpopo province, South Africa. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2007, vol.103, n.9-10, pp. 365-366. ISSN 1996-7489.
WE EXAMINED USED AND NEW BANK-notes in various denominations, circulating in the Limpopo province of South Africa, for the presence of microorganisms using the rinse method. Used banknotes were collected from open-air markets, banks, filling-stations, supermarkets, residential homes and hostels. Bacteria and/or fungi were isolated from 96% of the used banknotes, and none from the new (control) notes. Twelve bacterial and one fungal species were isolated, with Staphylococcus epidermidis (13%), Candida albicans (13%), Klebsiella species (11%) and Staphylococcus aureus (11%) being the most prevalent. The low-denomination notes (R10 and R20) were the most contaminated. Infected currency is identified as a potential public health hazard, as pathogens can be spread by circulating banknotes. Immunocompromised persons stand the risk of acquiring opportunistic infections, such as C. albicans, through handling of contaminated currency.