Fifteen years ago Dr. J. C. Graham, of Columbus, Ohio, carried on a study of soiled paper money, to furnish data to be used as the basis of a bill placed before Congress for a more frequent redemption of damaged paper currency. He examined fourteen bills, simply shaking them in 50 c.c. of distilled water and adding portions (0.1 c.c.) of this wash fluid to gelatin, for plating.
Agar was used twice, with resulting growth only once; but the author presumes that not all microbes present developed, since many pathogenic forms, especially Bacillus diphtheriæ? and the tubercle bacillus, will not grow at a temperature much below that of the body, or on the media used. He was able to recognize only Bacillus subtilis. To determine the pathogenic characteristics, only two inoculations were made; a twenty-four hour bouillon culture of an unknown bacillus was injected subcutaneously, into a full-grown rabbit, with negative results, excepting a slight rise of temperature. For the second inoculation, the wash fluid from a bill was placed in the incubator for forty-eight hours, and fifteen minims of this were injected into the peritoneal cavity of a rabbit, with negative results. He usually found only two or three species, but in one case claimed to have found five; three bacilli, one of them a spore form, an ordinary micrococcus and a diplococcus. One bill he estimated to have the enormous number of 901,320,000 bacteria upon it. He sums up his article by saying that "Money may be a source of danger by transmitting diseases."
Personally, I can not see that the object of Graham's study was accomplished, for no data were given which could support a bill for a more frequent redemption of our paper currency. The author himself saw the faults of his experiments when he presumed that not all bacteria present developed, especially since the ones in which he was most interested, the pathogenic forms, particularly, Bacillus diphtheria and the tubercle bacillus, would not grow at a temperature much below that of the body or on the media used; yet he did not attempt to overcome these faults.
In Revista Medica de Bogota of July, 1904, there is an article on "The Spread of Infectious Diseases by Paper Money." The author (his name was not given) suggests that the rapid increase of leprosy, in a certain locality during the past three years, may be due to the money in circulation, and he suggests a special currency for lepers. A bacteriological study was made by macerating some bills (twenty) in sterile, distilled water and allowing the wash to stand two or three days in a cylinder. The sediment was pipetted off and smears of it examined. The only germ identified was Bacillus subtilis, though
- "A Bacteriological Study of Soiled Paper Money," Columbus (O.) Medical Journal, Vol. XI., 1892–93, p. 391.
- "Del Contagio par el papel moneda," Revista Medica de Bogota, Julis, 1904, No. 291, p. 355.