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U.S. Dollar Bill Contains over 3,000 Bacteria

Update Date: Apr 24, 2014 09:29 AM EDT

The phrase "dirty money" can now be used quite literally. A new study discovered that on one single dollar bill, there exist roughly 3,000 different types of bacteria. The study conducted by New York University's Center for Genomic and Systems Biology was a part of a project to examine the trends of different health issues within New York City.

"We are finding viable bacteria that can be taken from paper currency," said Jane Carlton, the lead investigator of the study and director of genome sequencing at NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology. "That means that money could function as a form of transmission."

The research team analyzed dollar bills taken from one random Manhattan bank. On these dollars, they found the same microbes that are present on the human skin. Some of these microbes could also be found in people's mouths and even in some vaginas. The researchers noted that bills were more likely to carry bacteria that cause pneumonia during the wintertime as opposed to the summertime.

"A body-temperature wallet is a petri dish," commented Philippe Etienne, managing director of Innovia Security Pty Ltd., reported by Fox News.

The researchers reported that the majority of the microbes could be tied to mild health conditions, such as acne. However, in some of the bills, the researchers found bacteria that had antibiotic resistant genes. These types of genes, such as MRSA, indicate that the bacteria might not respond to common antibiotic treatments, which could be deadly for patients.

"Microbes are so important, are very ubiquitous and they surround us all the time," Carlton said reported by ABC News. "We did find certain microbes that we might be a little concerned about, but that doesn't mean that people should be unduly concerned."

The findings suggest that money can play a huge role in transmitting diseases from one person to another. Since money is typically handled on a daily basis, avoiding the bacteria on these bills is almost impossible. Instead, people could be more careful by washing their hands after touching money.

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