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Fist bump 'cleaner than handshake'

28 July 2014

Bumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, scientist have found.

Academics at Aberystwth University in west Wales came to the conclusion following a series of tests on hand hygiene. They are now calling for the widespread adoption of the fist bump, especially during flu outbreaks.

Using rubber gloves and a thick layer of the potentially deadly bacteria E.coli, scientists exchanged handshakes, high fives and fist bumps before working out which greeting gesture was the cleanest.

According to the study, high doses of bugs were passed on during a handshake. This was reduced by more than half during a high five and germ transfer was 90% lower when bumping fists.

Dr Dave Whitworth, senior lecturer at Aberystwyth University, said the hygienic nature of the fist bump was in part due to its speed (typically much quicker than a firm handshake) as well as there being a smaller contact area.

Direct contact is needed for most microbes to move, so minimising the parts of the hand that touch gives bacteria less chance to spread. The researchers also looked at grip strength and found that a stronger handshake increased the amount of bacteria shared.

The study, published in the August edition of the American Journal of Infection Control, was inspired by increased measures at promoting cleanliness in the workplace through the use of hand-sanitisers and keyboard disinfectants.

Dr Whitworth said: "People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands. But if the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is a genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases."