Touch elbows, don’t shake hands, to avoid flu

Touching elbows, taking a bow or bumping fists might be better ways of greeting each other than a handclasp, which can transmit the flu virus.

Nathan Wolfe, virus expert at Stanford University, California, urges us to use a “safe shake” to avoid the spread of infections.

New research into the flu virus has found that it could be caught from contaminated kettles, door handles, work surfaces and remote controls, where it can survive for up to 24 hours.

Wolfe is reported to have said that diseases such as stomach bugs, flu and colds spread readily via skin contact, the Daily Mail reports.

In his new book “The Viral Storm”, Wolfe says: “We should advocate a safe shake by touching elbows rather than hands.

“Certainly this would help to decrease the spread of some infectious agents in the same way that sneezing into an elbow, rather than in a hand, does.”

Wolfe, director of California-based firm Global Viral Forecasting, has recently acted as a consultant for the new movie “Contagion”, starring Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow.

In the opening scene, Paltrow is seen contracting a deadly virus after shaking someone by the hand and Wolfe argues that such a pandemic is entirely possible.

In 2003, the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome came from wild bats in China, where it was caught by a human and spread all the way to Canada.

President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are famous for bumping fists which could be adopted as a hygienic alternative to the handshake.

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