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Aston students confirm that money is clean but vermin are not

27 July 2001

Aston students confirm that money is clean but vermin are not

HAVE you ever wondered what nasty bacteria are looming in your loose change or the effect of vermin sharing your environment? Over 40 Environmental Health Officers from Birmingham City Council attended a Microbiology Lunchtime Lecture on Friday 27 July at Aston University to get these and other queries answered.

Lecturer and researcher in Food Microbiology, Dr Anthony Hilton and his students from Aston University fed back their latest findings. The research areas were chosen in collaboration with the City Council, including topics such as Salmonella carriage in pigeons and rats and the role of money in the spread of disease.

The findings indicate that urban rats cannot be eliminated as a source of Salmonella and reveal that they can play a role in the transmission of Salmonella in human infection. Pigeon fanciers should prepare to face facts that their feathered friends are no cleaner, with their faeces also carrying Salmonella, with potential human infection following contact. Salmonella can also survive in dry pigeon excrement, which forms dust when disturbed, which could represent an otherwise unconsidered method of human contamination. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, money, either in coin or note form, did not appear to act as a significant source of disease causing bacteria.

Richard Lodge, Head of Pest Control at Birmingham City Council explained: "Dr Hilton's team revealed some very useful research. This research confirmed our drive in getting the public to handle waste responsibly and to get employers and building owners to clean buildings to prevent build up of pigeon excrement, which we now know has the potential to cause disease in office environments."

The lecture is jointly supported by the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM), Dr Hilton explained: "Applied microbiology has always been central to our research. Micro-organisms have complex associations with humans, both to our advantage and our cost, and in studying these interactions we hope to reduce the impact of the latter thus improving the health of our society. I hope that we will be able to offer a lecture of this kind next year feeding back even more useful and enlightening research."

ENDS

For further information please call 0121 204 4549 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

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