Thursday, 2 July 2015

Allen Cheng on the ABC: Are handshakes a hazard?

Professor Allen Cheng from the Department of Epidemiology recently participated in an interview with the ABC, discussing the hazards of handshakes and the importance of hygiene.

Handshakes and common kissing of cheeks can most definitely transmit disease but the handshake greeting may not need to be abandoned just yet.

Professor Cheng states that it is crucial to always wash your hands before food preparation and after the bathroom. Furthermore, the danger of transmitting these infections is higher in crowded conditions. Cruise ships and similar locations can allow infections to transmit efficiently, particularly with infections such as the Norovirus.

However, one question has emerged: Have we gone too far with cleanliness?

Professor Cheng discusses that over-kill is possible, such as the increasing usage of anti-bacterial soaps.

“Anti-bacterial soaps at home are useless, normal soaps are just fine,” Professor Cheng suggests, also discussing that over-cleanliness may be leading to other health related consequences.

“Diseases such as asthma or Crohn’s disease can be by-products of the hygiene hypothesis, which states that over-cleanliness can lead to a diminished number of antibodies”.

Professor Cheng concludes that while it is important to wash your hands and be careful with physical interactions, particularly in flu seasons, there is also the chance that we can be ‘too clean’.

You can listen to the whole interview here:

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