Investigation into the prevalence, persistence and antibiotic resistance profiles of staphylococci isolated from euro currency

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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Journal of Applied Microbiology


Aims: The study set out to sample €10 banknotes for the presence of coagulase-positive staphylococci (CPS) such as Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) in Southern Ireland, to assess the levels of antibiotic resistance among those isolated, and determine the persistence of S. aureus on €10 banknotes and €2 coins. Methods and Results: We report that 97% of €10 banknotes screened (n = 155) harboured multiple species of staphylococci. From the generated bank of strains, a total of 150 representative staphylococci isolates were used for further study, 71 were CPS and 79 were CoNS. Of these, we found that 62% of the staphylococci demonstrated resistance to at least one of the first-line antibiotics (52·11% of CPS isolates and 76·71% of the CoNS isolates). Resistance to multiple antibiotics was seen in 31·18% of the resistant isolates. In relation to persistence studies, S. aureus was shown to remain viable on euro banknotes and coins for significant periods (on average, 19·33 days on €10 banknotes and 16·67 days on €2 coins) as determined using bioluminescence. Conclusions: We advocate the expansion of antibiotic surveillance programs, with a view to tracking/monitoring antibiotic resistance dissemination among environmental contaminants. Additionally, we propose that 'cashless transactions' should be encouraged in high-risk environments such as hospitals and healthcare settings, as well as stricter infection controls. Significance and Impact of the Study: Although it is accepted that circulating currency has the potential to harbour disease-causing pathogens, studies investigating prevalence and persistence of such pathogens on euro currency are virtually nonexistent. In an attempt to rectify this, we examined the prevalence of staphylococci on €10 banknotes in Ireland and reported relatively high levels of antibiotic resistance among the isolates. Furthermore, we have established the persistence of S. aureus on euro currency for the first time. © 2013 The Society for Applied Microbiology.

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