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Shouldn't Handshaking be Discouraged?
Old 12-16-2007, 10:01 AM   #1
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Shouldn't Handshaking be Discouraged?

1. High school lab experiment: place harmless bacteria on one kid's hand, have him shake hands with next kid, go down the line through thirty kids, take a culture and you'll find that bacteria.

2. We know that colds are spread through hand contact and hand to nose contact.

3. We attended an organization's dinner last night. The two heads of the chapter greeted each of the 200+ people by shaking his/her hand.

Now, I like a good firm handshake as much as the next guy. I know it's a venerable tradition.

It possibly originates from the need to show someone that you have no weapons.

Wouldn't a lot of colds, flu, and lost productivity be avoided if the surgeon general called a press conference and said: "This year, let's all wave instead of shaking hands and see what happens." ?
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:21 AM   #2
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Wouldn't a lot of colds, flu, and lost productivity be avoided if the surgeon general called a press conference and said: "This year, let's all wave instead of shaking hands and see what happens." ?
With all the hugging & cheek-kissing that goes on around here, that announcement would be regarded as yet another death of the Hawaiian aloha spirit.

Not, of course, that there are many full-blooded Hawaiians remaining after all the ravages of European/American colonial bacteria.

It occurs to me that politicians must shake thousands of hands over the course of a campaign. Perhaps their survival of such a regimen is an indicator of their fitness to serve?
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:22 AM   #3
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This made me laugh. I shake hands with new patients (it's expected and they often offer their hand). Then I wash my hands. Then I examine them, then I wash my hands. Then they shake my hand good-bye, then I wash my hands. Of course during all the gaps, the viruses are transferred to my stethoscope, which I wipe with alcohol. And my pen, which I rarely wipe down. Repeat x 20 per day.

All the above probably does almost nothing to protect me; maybe it protects the patient from me, a little.

In the end, realizing that the whole hand-shaking tradition is just downright unhealthy, I realize it is one of those gestures that communicates warmth, humanity, and establishes a brief human connection. In my work I believe those are more important than reducing my odds of catching a cold so I just do it.

Interestingly, I rarely catch cold. My wife gets pseudo-mad at me for "never being sick" while she gets the usual 4 colds a year or so.
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:26 AM   #4
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It occurs to me that politicians must shake thousands of hands over the course of a campaign. Perhaps their survival of such a regimen is an indicator of their fitness to serve?
I view it as further evidence they aren't really human.
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:48 AM   #5
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I for one welcome our new non human political overlords...

Same thing at our house. My wife does respiratory care and interacts with all sorts of incredibly sick people. We get our share of colds and flus, but most of them seem to originate with Gabe and then to the two of us rather than from my wife. Maybe in exposure to so many bugs you get a better immune system.
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:53 AM   #6
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The UN in Africa recommends the elbow bump instead of shaking hands to shop the spread of disease.
Think about the attempts in the USA to get good food handling practices - plastic gloves; plastic utentils, education - (have you watched Restaurant Nightmares?) etc and how many restaurants fail inspection. Then think about restaurants outside the USA.

Also, think about toilet practices out side the USA - some of the grossest toilets I have seen were in China. Soap, toilet paper, water for washing hands - never seen in many places around the world.

Even in the USA when I am RVing I many times do not see people was their hands after going to the toilet or empting their black water tanks.

I've gotten into the habit of washing my hands as often as I can and do other small things not to touch things with my hands; like using my pinky to open doors with handles.

I'm with you Al we need a new signal for saying hello.
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:54 AM   #7
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Maybe what we are seeing is that the recommended hand washing that is more often practiced by healthcare professionals is actually effective.
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:59 AM   #8
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I'm sure it is healthier to avoid shaking hands, but I'm not ready to give up the custom. I do try to wash my hands regularly.
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:22 AM   #9
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1
Wouldn't a lot of colds, flu, and lost productivity be avoided if the surgeon general called a press conference and said: "This year, let's all wave instead of shaking hands and see what happens." ?
I think this could happen if a widespread killer flu was going around. You'd see more people walking around wearing masks over their face and nose too. But just to avoid colds, I don't think too many people will change.

I try to avoid being the one to offer my hand. But I don't refuse someone's hand unless I have a cold, or they obviously do.
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Old 12-16-2007, 12:03 PM   #10
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I have not shaken anyones hand in weeks. Why the H%$3 do I have a head cold? What have I done wrong? Actually I think I got it from my cousin's three year old.

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Old 12-16-2007, 12:08 PM   #11
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It is a barbaric and unsanitary custom.
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Old 12-16-2007, 12:33 PM   #12
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It is a barbaric and unsanitary custom.
I shake hands, I hug and kiss my friends, I go to dance classes and dances where I essentially hold hands with 20 women who are themselves holdings hands with 19 other men, etc.

But I almost never get colds. I do try hard to keep my hands away from my face, and always wash my hands before I am leaving the venue.

What squeamishness I have was challenged a few weeks ago. It was a class, the men rotate from partner to partner to practice the steps being demonstrated. I looked ahead to see who my partner would be. A demure looking middle aged woman, very well dressed, but unfortunately picking her nose!

Short of hiding in the men's room I couldn't think of any inoffensive way to avoid her boogers, so I took it like a man, but washed thoroughly just after so as to protect my later partners, and I hoped myself!

I think a warm social life helps protect me from downer moods, and staying up helps ward off colds. So at worst it's a draw with the bugs.

I am however a certified herpephobe.

Ha
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Catching bugs......
Old 12-16-2007, 01:39 PM   #13
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Catching bugs......

TheStar.com | News | Coming right atchoo
Like, totally gross!

Why Don't We Do It In Our Sleeves?
In your sleeve: the new way to sneeze!

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/21/health/21cons.html
On hand sanitizers: 60% alcohol minimum
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Old 12-16-2007, 03:09 PM   #14
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Going along with the same idea, here in Europe you never hand a cashier/clerk money directly. You place it on the counter, the cashier picks it up and then puts your change on the counter where you pick it up. They have these little coin tray things that makes it easy to pick up the coins from the counter.

I read a long time ago that this started all the way back in the days of the Plague (Black Death) when no one wanted any contact with each other. Don't know if that's true or not.

I've also heard another person say that money alone is germ infested enough as it is without touching someone else's dirty hand.

Handshaking though is still fairly common here but it's usually a much shorter and often less firm shake than the old fashioned American one. Kind of like they do it for etiquette purposes but they don't really want to.
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Old 12-16-2007, 05:57 PM   #15
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i subscibe to handshaking but washing often. before giving up handshaking we should consider things like taking a day off from work when we are sick so rather than making ourselves look loyal, we show concern for our colleagues instead.

i caught my nephews cold on friday but i needed a few items at the store today. i tried my very best to avoid breathing on anyone. i was on cold meds and i was headachie and miserable. but there was this woman taking up the entire aisle to herself.

i tried my very best to avoid her, even still, she managed to get right in my face. "you look like someone who needs cheering up," she said, not one foot away from me. i retorted, "and you look like someone who needs to go away." she grumbled down the aisle, no longer caring to cheer me up. at least she caught my drift before she caught my cold.
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Old 12-16-2007, 08:39 PM   #16
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Silver has proven itself to be an excellent bacteria killer, maybe the best. I read an article stating that the spread of many of our illnesses could be avoided if our coinage was still made of pure silver. The author advised that one should carry around an ounce of silver for those times when a sink and soap aren't handy and that we should make a habit of handling the coin regularly throughout the day. Whether it works or not, I like that idea. I think I'll go out tomorrow and try to find me a pure silver yo-yo

A bit of silver trivia and yet another reason to use moderation in all things. The term "blue bloods" in referring to the wealthy came about because the rich would use silver cups and cutlery. Babies even had silver pacifiers. Over time the rich injested quite a lot of silver. When you take in too much silver your skin turns a blueish gray color and never returns to normal.
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Old 12-16-2007, 08:55 PM   #17
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Argyria, a mysterious illness afflicting mostly those born late 1800s and early 1900s. I saw a couple of cases while moonlighting in an ancient nursing home as a young resident. Blue skin, blue lips, sometimes dementia.

Turns out there was a popular nose drop decongestant by the name of Argyrol. People swore by it, overused it, and turned blue. Argyrol's active ingredient: silver.

Today's answer: Purell.
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:14 PM   #18
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When we were on our cruise, they warned us that at the captain's reception that there would be no handshaking plus Purell cleaning when we ate and came on the ship.

Of course, at the company party, there was hugging and handshaking. However, since I am around these people until I FIRE, I have already be exposed to everything that they might have.
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:22 PM   #19
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When we were on our cruise, they warned us that at the captain's reception that there would be no handshaking plus Purell cleaning when we ate and came on the ship.

Of course, at the company party, there was hugging and handshaking. However, since I am around these people until I FIRE, I have already be exposed to everything that they might have.
Yup, that's about Norwalk Virus mostly. Last cruise we took, aside from Purell mania, they told us to "shake hands" by touching elbows. Strange but true.
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:33 PM   #20
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I read an article recently about bacterial quorum sensing. I'm sure this is old news to many, but it was new to me: bacteria regulate toxin production by signaling each other. When enough bacteria are present (i.e., a quorum) they start to poison you, but they are harmless before a quorum is present.

So, we may find a way to disrupt their quorum sensing and live happily ever after with otherwise toxic bacteria.
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