A study conducted by two Ghanaian scientists has revealed that 98.6 per cent of Ghanaian cedi notes are contaminated with bacteria.
According to the study, which was conducted between November 2008 and February 2009, some of the cedi notes were contaminated with pathogenic micro-organisms which could spread diseases.
The study established that one-cedi notes were the most contaminated, followed by the five-cedi notes and the 10-cedi notes.
The study was conducted by Mr Patrick Feglo and Mr Michael Nkansah of the Department of Clinical Microbiology of the School of Medical Sciences and the Department of Medical Laboratory Technology of the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, respectively, both of the College of Health Sciences of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Their findings are published in the African Journal of Microbiology Research Vol. 4(22) pp. 2375-2380, November 18, 2010 and can be accessed online at http://www.academicjournals.org/ajmr
The study revealed that some of the bacteria had the potency to cause tuberculosis, leprosy and buruli ulcer, as well as food poisoning, minor skin infections and severe life-threatening infections, depending on the mycobacterium species.
“Pathogenic micro-organisms that may survive on the Ghanaian currency notes may serve as a potential source of enteropathogens causing food poisoning because in Ghana food vendors serve food with the hands and at the same time handle currency notes as they sell,” it noted.
After the laboratory analyses of 70 cedi notes of various denominations, 112 different bacteria were isolated from 69 currency notes, representing a contamination percentage of 98.57.
“One of the currency notes which appeared new and ‘seemingly clean’ did not grow any bacterium,” the study revealed.
The staggering revelations of the study mean that people who handle cedi notes but do not have the habit of washing their hands before eating stand a high risk of getting infected with various kinds of diseases.
Many Ghanaians do not have the habit of washing their hands before eating, a practice that has moved health authorities to embark on an annual hand-washing campaign and awareness creation of the essence of washing hands before eating and after visiting the wash room.
The researchers observed that Ghanaian currency notes were handled by all manner of people, including food vendors who served food and handled currency notes at the same time, making the notes dirty and cross-contaminated.
The study, therefore, sought to determine bacterial species and the level of contamination of the cedi notes in circulation. In that regard, the researchers collected cedi notes at random from food vendors in Kumasi for the scientific investigation.
It involved the collection of cedi notes at random from ready-to-eat food sellers on the KNUST campus.
It was an observational cross-sectional study involving 70 currency notes collected at random. The currency notes studied were 30 one-cedi notes, 30 five-cedi notes and 10 of the 10-cedi notes.
Each currency note was collected directly into a sterile plastic bag and transported to the Diagnostic Laboratory of the Department of Microbiology, KNUST, soon after collection and examined for bacterial contamination.
Source: Daily Graphic
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