Handshake debate: Is the greeting worth the risk? - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Handshake debate: Is the greeting worth the risk of getting sick?

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(stock photo/Wikimedia) (stock photo/Wikimedia)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

When someone offers you a handshake, you shake it right?

It's a common courtesy. But, it turns out a lot of people really aren't into shaking hands. They just can't figure out a way to get out of it without offending the other person.

There is a scientific basis for avoiding handshakes. 80 percent of infectious diseases are said to be transmitted by touch. Public health experts focus their efforts on promoting the importance of frequent hand washing, which greatly reduces the chance of getting sick, or getting someone else sick. Still, one study this year found as many as 80 percent of people still have at least some disease-causing bacteria on their hands, even after washing.

In fact, there's a whole website dedicated to eliminating the handshake. The motto of stophandshaking.com is "no offense -- it just doesn't make sense." The site even offers alternatives to handshaking, like the fist bump, various forms of bowing, and flashing the peace sign.

There's more credibility to all this than you might think. The study that said people have germs on their hands even after washing, actually recommended that staff in hospitals use the fist bump instead of handshakes.

Mayor Emanuel is also concerned about getting sick from all those hand-to-hand greeting. When the Chicago Health Department did an online chat about avoiding the flu, the mayor tweeted a photo, asking: "any advice for people who shake a ton of hands?"

The city's medical director tweeted back: wash frequently and carry hand sanitizer.

But what if, still, you don't want to shake those hands -- from a social etiquette perspective, is it okay to say no?

Relationship columnist Gina B. and official etiquette guru Peter Post offer their opinions on this topic.

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