'Life threatening' bacteria found on our money

4th of October 2018
'Life threatening' bacteria found on our money

UK research that put money under the microscope to determine what is really lurking in our wallets has revealed some unpleasant results.

Dr Paul Matewele, professor of microbiology at London Metropolitan University and his students took 36 samples from a random selection of all denominations of coins and notes. The microbiologists studied the bacteria in a controlled lab environment over a period of eight weeks.

Nineteen different bacteria were found across UK coins, polymer £5 and £10 notes and paper £20 and £50 notes, including two life threatening bacteria associated with antibiotic resistant superbugs - Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Enterococcus faecium (VRE. The life threatening airborne bacteria, Listeria was also found.

Dr Matewele commented: "One of the most shocking discoveries was finding so many microorganisms thriving on metal, an element you wouldn't normally expect to see germs surviving on. The bugs have adapted to their environment, resulting in coins becoming a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

"People who have compromised immune systems could be most at risk from handling dirty money - if you're visiting people in hospital who might be vulnerable to infection, you could unknowingly transfer bacteria off your cash which is resistant to antibiotics."

The study was carried out in cooperation with money.co.uk


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