Profile of bacteria and fungi on money coins

East Afr Med J. 2009 Apr;86(4):151-5. doi: 10.4314/eamj.v86i4.46943.


Objectives: To determine the quantity and quality of bacterial and fungi on money coins and to identify those that could pose a public health risk.

Design: Random sampling of coins from subjects within predetermined categories.

Setting: Westlands division of Nairobi Metropolitan province.

Subjects: Twenty-shilling coin samples were collected from matatu (a common commuter vehicle in Kenya) taxi conductors, greengrocers, shoe shiners, butchers, food kiosk/restaurant attendants, grocery shops attendants, roast maize vendors and school children. Forty coin samples were analysed for both the total viable content and the types of bacterial and fungal organisms.

Results: Average bacterial content on the coins ranged from 2.3 x 10(3) to 25.5 x 10(3) and fungi content from 11 to 377 colony forming units. The following potentially pathogenic bacteria were among those isolated: Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, Serratia, Enterobacter, Salmonella, Acinetobacter, Enterococci, Staphylococcus and Bacillus cereus. In addition, this is the first report of potentially pathogenic fungal isolation from money coins. Penicillium spp, Aspergillus niger, Fusarium, Rhizopus, Altenaria spp, Candida spp and Cryptococcus were isolated.

Conclusion: Money coins harbour potentially pathogenic bacteria and fungi that may pose a public health risk. Hand hygiene is therefore strongly recommended, especially for those who simultaneously handle food and money.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Infections / transmission
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Communicable Diseases / transmission*
  • Fomites / microbiology*
  • Fungi / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • Mycoses / transmission
  • Numismatics*