Pearls Before Swine: Shaking Hands and Swine Flu

A question etiquette consultants have been asked over the last few months is ‘do I shake hands with someone for fear of catching swine flu?’ A lot of people are becoming worried – perhaps paranoid – that if they shake someone’s hand at the moment the chances of catching the H1-N1 virus increases. The same applies for social kissing.

The English Manner’s John Robertson says, “Go ahead and shake their hands. You’re going to pick up more germs anyway as soon as you touch the next door knob and you should just continue to wash your hands frequently and carry a little squeeze bottle of hand sanitiser if you’re really worried”.

A good sanitising product readily available in the UK is ‘Flu Pak’, which can be bought at all good pharmacies and drug-shops, as well as online.

It is rude to refuse someone’s hand when proffered and this should be remembered at all times. On a medical note, swine flu is no different to normal influenza. Whilst it is harmful to pregnant mothers, the very young and the elderly, to everyone else, it is just the same as having common or garden flu. As with many recent diseases (I’m thinking bird flu) the media have been as helpful as ever in stirring up public paranoia with this disease.

Of course, if you have the disease then you should be in bed and not shaking hands with anyone, so it is a fair assumption to assume that people who have swine flu will not be proffering their hands to anyone.

John Robertson continues, “Shaking hands doesn’t give you the virus, it doesn’t pass through your skin. The infection is passed when you put your hands near your mouth or nose or your eyes. So wash your hands often and keep them away from your face; good advice at any time”.

It would seem the best antidote to swine flu is common sense.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

3 Responses to “Pearls Before Swine: Shaking Hands and Swine Flu”


  1. 1 Jay Remer 26 October 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Well done, William. To the point and so true about the media. Whilst one must be careful not to bite the hand that feeds it, if truth instead of scandal were what sold newspapers, we’d all be in a different spot. I think a toast to one’s natural immune system is in order. Cheers! Jay

  2. 2 torkuk 27 October 2009 at 3:16 pm

    An interesting article, good comments by John Robertson especially in relation to washing your hands regularly.

    This online interactive tutorial could be of some interest and partner this article really well – http://bit.ly/MMVMr

    It really highlights the importance of washing and drying your hands when trying to reduce the spread of bacteria, worth a go!

  3. 3 Issac Maez 6 November 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Im actually trying to decide if I should get my kid the swine flu shot, Some people say its safe and some say it isnt. Thanks for the great Post!


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