Thursday 4 October 2018 12:29 AM UTC
LONDON Oct 4: The cash and coins we carry are covered by up to 19 types of bug and potentially deadly bacteria, experts say.
Our banknotes, coins, purses, pockets and wallets are mostly contaminated by bugs associated with people failing to wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, researchers at London Metropolitan University showed.
Polymer £5 and £10 notes were contaminated, as were paper £20 and £50 notes, by two life-threatening bacteria associated with antibiotic resistant superbugs – staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and enterococcus faecium (VRE) and listeria.
Thirty six samples from random denominations of coins and notes were taken by professor of microbiology Dr Paul Matewele and his students.
The coins were put in petri dishes and the team watched as bacteria grew over eight weeks in lab conditions. Bacteria was collected from the notes using swabs and grown.
Bacteria was collected from the notes using swabs and these were then encouraged to grow so they could be identified.
Dr Matewele said: ‘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.’
He said the findings could have serious consequences for public health.
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