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Can You Catch Swine Flu From Money?
To reduce the risk of catching swine flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing and using tissues when you sneeze. But there's another way to protect yourself —even if it's not so good for the economy: Stop spending money.
It doesn't get talked about much, but the fact is paper currency—the dollars, fives, tens and twenties most people routinely touch every day—can spread a virus from one person to another. So if you have contact with money that an infected individual has also handled, there's a possibility of catching the flu.
How likely is that? Despite the pervasiveness of cash in society, its role in transmitting illness has been the subject of surprisingly little study. But some recent research suggests that flu bugs can show some staying power when they land on one of the countless banknotes that change hands every day.
Generally speaking, scientists interviewed by SmartMoney estimate the lifetime of a plain flu virus deposited on money at an hour or so. But mix in some human nasal mucus, and the potential for the virus to hang on long enough to find a victim increases, according to one of the few scientific studies done on flu transmission through cash.
It goes without saying that bacteria are everywhere in the environment and most of these microbes are harmless to humans. Should germs on currency worry us? Surprisingly, studies of bacteria on money are scarce. In 1972 a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association studied bacteria from 200 coins and bills and found harmful germs like fecal bacteria and Staphylococcus aureus on 13 percent of coins and 42 percent of notes. The study concluded: "Money is truly dirty."
Another study at the University of California at San Francisco cultured 113 examples of "real life" cash from a deli, a post office, a newsstand, and common places where money changes hands. Most grew harmless organisms, but 18 percent of coins and 7 percent of notes had some less friendly bacteria on them, including the odd colony of E. coli and the potential pathogen S. aureus. Fortunately, the bug soon shrivels on money's dry surface. And with 25 percent of people carrying S. aureus in their noses, it's no surprise that the bug gets onto fingers and money.
Originally posted by exile1981
I would not be surprised. My wife works in a bank in Canada and they have that hand sanitizer for use every flu season because of the germs on money. Paper currency is very dirty and you'd be surprised, she brought home a video from work that they made them watch and in it they swabbed bills and found that something like 80-90% were carrying human fecal material and coc aine on them. Plus they had a whole list of germs on them.