Contaminated paper currencies could be a potential source of multi-drug resistance organisms (MDROs). Therefore, there is a likelihood that banknote acts as a reservoir and environmental vehicles for the spread of MDROs, representing a risk to individuals handling paper currencies and posing a public health hazard.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the knowledge of Saudi population on contaminated currency notes and to assess the load of microbial pathogens of paper currency.
This was an observational study using the cross-sectional study design and experimental study. The data was obtainedfrom an online survey using a structured questionnaire. The data wasthen analyzed using EPI INFO V7.Currency notes used for microbial isolation were collected from all Saudi currency denominations from different places including slaughter houses, gas stations, hospital cafeteria. They were assessed through microbiological culture and biochemical techniques. The non-identified isolates were further analyzed using Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time-of-Flight (MALDI-TOF).
The total participants in this survey was 1415 Saudi adult citizens. Approximately 60% of respondents did not know the level of contamination on the currency notes. Among the respondents, 57.1% reported not to wash their hands after handling contaminated currency, the majority of which was male, being 78%. Fifteen types of bacteria and one type of fungi were found on the surface of currency notes, including Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter baumannii, Rhizopus, Bacillus spp., Klebsiella spp., Escherichia coli, Pantoea septica andPaenibacillus faecis.
The Saudi adult awareness about contaminated currency notes was inadequate. To our knowledge, some isolated bacteria have never been previously isolated, including Enterococcus faecalisand Paenibacillus faecis. The outcomes of this study showed that currency notes could play a role of microorganisms’ transmission.