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JAMA 100 Years Ago
March 3, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(9):1144. doi:10.1001/jama.291.9.1144-a

A proposition has been made that banking institutions disinfect all paper currency which passes through their hands. This proposition is made in all seriousness, and is worthy of commendation. If there is any value in disinfection, and if it is worth while to attempt to avoid contagion, it seems a little remarkable that we regularly and willingly undergo the dangers from a medium that is a good contagion carrier, that passes through all kinds of hands, and that consequently favors the spread of disease. No sanitarian would refuse a ten-dollar bill, however tattered and infected, not even from the hands of one whose sanitary condition is obviously unwholesome; and who can tell through whose hands it passed before? It is not too much to say that the fight against tuberculosis and other infectious diseases will result only in partial success if the danger from paper currency is not recognized. Of course, even though the banks disinfect all such currency, there will still be the danger from the interchange among individuals. At the same time, the disinfection by wholesale, if we may so put it, by the banks will surely do much good. The expense will be very small, and the evil possibilities that will be lessened are hardly calculable.

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