Always wash your hands after paying
Geneva, Switzerland - 16 January 2008
Forget retail therapy for some relief from that winter cold -- a study
by Swiss scientists revealed on Wednesday that the flu virus can nestle
and survive on banknotes for more than two weeks.
Scientists from Geneva's University Hospital were asked by a Swiss bank
to carry out the study amid worries that a flu pandemic could be prolonged
thanks to the millions of bank notes in circulation, Le Temps newspaper reported.
Between 20-million and 100-million banknotes change hands in Switzerland alone
each day, it said.
The researchers left small samples of the flu virus on used banknotes,
which were then left at room temperature. Although the virus only
survived in most cases for a few hours, certain highly concentrated
samples proved resistant for several days.
In the worst case, if the virus was mixed with human mucus on the banknote,
it could survive for two and a half weeks, Le Temps said.
"This unexpected resilience of the virus suggests that this sort of inert,
non-biological support should not be overlooked in pandemic planning,"
chief researcher Yves Thomas told the paper.
The team will now do further research to see how much of a factor banknotes
might be in flu transmission, though Thomas stressed that the main risks remain
airborne transmission and direct human contact. -- Sapa-AFP