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The Ghanaian currency notes and coins: A medium of exchange for pathogenic microbes
The microbial load of the “old” and “new” Ghanaian Cedi notes and coins obtained from vari-ous sources in Cape Coast, Ghana was studied using the dilution plate technique between September 2005 - March 2006 and September 2008 - March 2009. Isolations were made on Mac-Conkey agar for coliforms and other enteric bacteria, Plate Count agar for total viable bacteria and Sabouraud agar for fungi. Generally, the notes carried significantly higher microbial loads than the Cedi coins (p < 0.001). Yeasts were the dominant microorganisms on both banknotes and coins, followed by moulds and coliform bacteria were the least. The enteric bacteria isolated were of the lactose-fermenting (coliforms) and non lactose-fermenting types. The presence of coliforms on the banknotes and coins indicated faecal contamination and thus implicated poor hygienic practices involved in the handling of Ghanaian currency notes and coins. The sources of collection of the banknotes and coins seemed to determine the types and population of micro-organisms on the notes and the coins. There was however no significant difference (p>0.05) be-tween bacterial loads isolated from the “old” notes and coins on one hand and “new” Cedi notes and coins on the other hand suggesting that the Ghanaian currency notes and coins were being mishandled by majority of the populace. The presence of various types of bacteria and fungi on the “Cedi” notes and coins suggests that they may act as vehicles for pathogens of some communicable diseases.