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Fist Bump Beats Germ-Spreading Handshake

fist bump
DaVinci Laboratories

According to American Journal of Infection Control study, “fist bumping” significantly transmits fewer bacteria than either handshaking or high-fiving, while still addressing the cultural expectation of hand-to-hand contact between patients and clinicians.

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

The official publication of the Washington D.C.-based Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) reported in the study researchers performed trials to determine if alternative greetings would transmit fewer germs than the traditional handshake.

In this experiment, a greeter immersed a sterile-gloved hand into a container of germs. Once the glove was dry, the greeter exchanged a handshake, fist bump, or high-five with a sterile-gloved recipient. Exchanges randomly varied in duration and intensity of contact, reported APIC, adding after the exchange, the receiving gloves were immersed in a solution to count the number bacteria transferred during contact and nearly twice as many bacteria were transferred during a handshake compared to the high-five, and significantly fewer bacteria were transferred during a fist bump than a high-five.

“Adoption of the fist bump as a greeting could substantially reduce the transmission of infectious diseases between individuals,” said David Whitworth, PhD, corresponding author of the study. “It is unlikely that a no-contact greeting could supplant the handshake; however, for the sake of improving public health we encourage further adoption of the fist bump as a simple, free, and more hygienic alternative to the handshake.”

For more information, visit www.apic.org.