NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A woman’s claim of falling ill after picking up a dollar bill at a Nashville fast food restaurant has medical professionals speaking out.
Renee Parsons’s post has since gone viral with many doubting her claims that the dollar had drugs on it and led to her hospitalization.
“The risks of exposure through the skin are incredibly, incredibly small,” Dr. Caleb Alexander professor in epidemiology in medicine at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health told News 2.
It’s a risk that increases if you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.
“The risk is quite low, but theoretically, yeah, someone could touch it with their skin and then if they touch their eyes or their mouth or their nose then theoretically, they could have an exposure that way.”
Ingesting a drug such as fentanyl is a much different story, as Dr. David Edwards of Vanderbilt previously told News 2.
“I can’t just put my hand in a bag and touch some powder and overdose from fentanyl. You pick up that, the dollar bills and maybe there’s a bunch of powder in there and put that in your mouth then that’s a different scenario. You can certainly overdose from ingesting a good amount of powder,” Dr. Edwards explained.
Dr. Elisabeth Poorman with the University of Illinois-Chicago says the misunderstanding seems particularly prevalent among police and the concern is it may discourage first responders or bystanders from helping someone experiencing an overdose.
In addition to Renee Parsons’s claim of finding a dollar bill and becoming unconscious—Perry County Sheriff Nick Weems put out a warning about money with fentanyl found in multiple locations in June.
In a June 15 interview with WKRN News 2, Sheriff Weems acknowledged that it was a controversial topic, “I’ve heard that you can and you can’t, but I don’t want to take that chance. Especially, I don’t want to take that chance with our children in our community.”
Dr. Alexander says that there is a much bigger message coming from the recent reports, “I think the main message isn’t so much don’t pick up the dollar bill, it’s that if you have a friend or family member that have addiction work with them to get treatment because treatment is safe, effective and it works.”
For more information on treatment and recovery options in Tennessee, click here.
On Monday afternoon, Metro Nashville police told News 2 they didn’t see any evidence of drugs present on the dollar bill Parsons claimed to have picked up at a Nashville fast food restaurant but didn’t test the bill. They took the dollar to the property room to be destroyed.