The study in the American Journal of Infection Control found that
fist bumps, where two people briefly press the top of their closed
fists together, transferred about 90 percent less bacteria than
"People rarely think about the health implications of shaking
hands," Dave Whitworth, a biologist at Aberystwyth University in the
United Kingdom who co-authored the study, said in a statement.
"If the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is
genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases," he
The fist bump appears to enjoy the support of both U.S. President
Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, both of whom have been seen
enthusiastically using the greeting, the study notes.
The study used participants who wore gloves that had been thoroughly
coated in a film of non-pathogenic E. coli bacteria. They then
variously shook hands, high-fived and fist-bumped fellow
participants in sterile gloves and the amount of transferred
bacteria was examined.
High-five slaps transferred about half the amount of bacteria as
Handshakes relay more germs because they result in a larger area of
contact between hands, but the strength and length of handshakes
also play a role, the study found.
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"Transmission is greater with increased duration and grip," it said.
The research was prompted by an apparent increase in workplace
cleanliness measures, including the growing use of hand sanitizers
and keyboard disinfectants, the university said in a statement.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Eric Beech)
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