Doctors who shake hands with their patients may be unwittingly acting as a dangerous source of transmitting disease, according to researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, who said that it was as dangerous as public smoking.
Writing in the report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers said that while a handshake is seen as an important social custom, there is a big danger of germs being spread between the two people and also others whom they come in contact with.
The researchers suggested that 'handshake-free zones' should be created, especially in hospitals, and replacement gestures, such as nods or bows, should be adopted.
"The handshake represents a deeply established social custom. In recent years, however, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of hands as vectors for infection, leading to formal recommendations and policies regarding hand hygiene in hospitals and other health care facilities", the researchers wrote in their report.