An average Indian currency note roughly has Eukaryotic species such as fungi (70%), bacterial populations (9%) and viruses (<1%), according to a research by Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB).

"We identified 78 pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis. Our analysis also suggests a significant diversity in the microbial population on paper currency notes and presence of antibiotic resistance genes," said S Ramchandran, Principal scientist at the IGIB and one of the authors of the paper.

The pathogens on the currency notes can lead to several skin diseases, fungal and gastro-intestinal infections, respiratory disorders and even tuberculosis, the paper said.

Samples were collected in sterile plastic bags from random spots such as street vendors, grocery shops, snack bars, canteen, tea shops, hardware shops, chemists, etc. across the Delhi metropolitan area. The samples mostly comprised notes of Rs 10, 20 and 100 denomination as they are widely used.

Many countries like Australia have withdrawn paper currency notes and replaced it with plastic because of similar reasons.

"We are already using plastic money (credit and debit cards) but their use is still not in widespread. One must follow hygienic practices and sanitise hands after handling currency notes to avoid any kind of infection," Ramchandran added.

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