This study was conducted by Usman, M. (Department of Pharmacy, Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital, Bauchi), Sani, J. (Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Kaduna State University, Kaduna), Ibrahim, A. (Department of Medical Microbiology, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi), and Olowo-okere, A. (Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Microbiology, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto) all from Nigeria.
The study titled “Microbial contamination of Naira notes circulating in Bauchi metropolis: prevalence, microbial load and detection of extended spectrum beta-lactamase producing Gram-negative bacteria” was prompted by the persistent increase in reports of contamination of banknotes with various microbial species globally. This usually results from improper handling during the exchange of goods and services.
In this study, the researchers aimed to determine the microbial load, prevalence and the presence of Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase (ESBL) among bacteria isolated from the Nigerian Naira notes circulating in Bauchi metropolis.
To conduct the study, the researchers randomly obtained a total of 400 Naira notes of various denominations aseptically, cultured the samples obtained from the banknotes and determined the total viable counts of microorganisms found.
The researchers were able to identify the isolated microbial species using standard microbiological techniques. They went further to determine the antibiotic susceptibility of the isolates and detection of ESBL using Kirby-Bauer’s disc diffusion method and Double Disc Synergy Test (DDST), respectively.
The researchers observed surprisingly, that all the 400 samples collected were contaminated with various microbial species. The highest mean colony count was detected in 20 Naira notes (28.5%), while the least was observed in 1000 Naira notes (3.3%). Fourteen different microbial species were isolated from the contaminated currency notes, predominantly Escherichia coli (25.0%), and Staphylococcus aureus (12.0%). Some fungal species mainly Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger were also isolated. The majority of the bacteria isolates resistant to the third-generation cephalosporins (72.1%) were ESBL positive.
In conclusion, the researchers posited that their study showed that Naira notes circulating in Bauchi metropolis were heavily contaminated with various microbial species, and a high proportion of the isolated Gram-negative bacteria were ESBL producers. And recommended that efforts should thus be made to improve hygiene practices in the study area. They however, mentioned that most importantly is the urgent need for businesses to encourage the adoption of electronic transactions instead of cash.
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