A pan-India traders’ body on Sunday urged Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to order “a larger investigation” to assess the chances of diseases spreading via currency notes, reported PTI.

In its letter to Jaitley, the Confederation of All India Traders cited various studies and media reports to back its demand. The letter has also been sent to Health Minister JP Nadda and Minister for Science and Technology Harshvardhan.

The studies quoted by the traders’ body claimed that currency notes carry micro-organisms that can cause diseases and infections. Researchers have warned that several diseases, including urinary and respiratory tract infections, skin infections and recurrent meningitis, are being transmitted through currency notes. They can also contribute to causing septicaemia and toxic shock syndrome.

Scientists at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology have found traces of DNA footprints of at least 78 disease-causing micro-organisms on currency notes, reported Times Now. The traders’ body also mentioned another report published in the Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences.

“Currency notes carry all kinds of micro-organisms and thus can cause several diseases,” DNA quoted Dr Nandini Duggal, senior microbiologist at Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, as saying. “Influenza being at the top. Any kind of droplet or airborne disease can easily get passed through the currency and thus it is highly recommended to wash hands after handling money.”

“Money is one of the dirtiest things you can touch. It is sometimes dirtier than a toilet seat,” Dr Muneeb Faiq, a former researcher at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, told DNA. “And yes, pathogens do get transferred through currency. That is why it is not advisable to count money by using your saliva on the fingers. Tuberculosis should be one among many diseases that has a potential of being transferred through money.”

Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders Praveen Khandelwal said the trading community was the largest user of currency notes. He urged the Medical Council of India and the Indian Medical Association to investigate if notes are contaminated.