Don’t Want to Get Sick? Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Coughs_and_Sneezes_Spread_Diseases_Art.IWMPST14133Howie Mandel is an actor and game-show host who is famous for being a germaphobe, someone who has an irrational (not logical; not based on fact or reality) fear of germs (very small things that cause disease).*

A phobia is a fear of something, and someone who suffers from that fear we often call a “[feared thing]+a+phobe.” Hence (therefore), a “germaphobe” is someone who fears germs.

Germaphobes would, for example, prefer to do a fist bump rather than shake your hand when they greet (say hello or meet) you.

In the past, people have given Howie Mandel a hard time (criticized him or bothered him about it), but Mandel knows what he’s doing. According to recent study, a handshake (putting your hand into someone else’s hand to greet them) is 10 to 20 times more likely to transmit (pass from one person to another) germs than a fist bump.

So if you want to cut down on (to reduce) how many colds, bouts (instances of) flu, and similar illnesses you get this year, you need to keep your hands to yourself, especially in your workplace.

In another recent study on how germs are transmitted in offices, researchers looked at how germs spread (moved to a wider area) in one office building with 80 employees.

Using a virus that doesn’t cause illness but that is similar to ones that do, the scientists infected a push-plate door (door that is opened simply by putting weight on a metal plate, with no door handle) at the entrance to the building. Within two hours, the virus had spread to areas most employees touched, such as items in the company kitchen — such as coffee pots and microwave buttons — and parts of the restrooms.

Within four hours, the virus was detected (found) on the hands of 50% of employees in the office!

Some people suggest using hand sanitizer (liquid put on hands to kill germs) and disinfectant wipes (tissues with liquid that kills germs), which do seem to reduce viruses. But others warn that hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes kill good bacteria (germs) along with bad bacteria, and good bacteria is important for fighting bad germs.

So what should you do? Well, Lucy has told you how to avoid getting sick with food that hits the ground.

My advice on avoiding getting sick at work is simple: Don’t work for a company that allows scientists to secretly put strange germs and viruses in your office as part of some weird experiment. If you do that, and don’t touch anything at work, you’ll be just fine.

– Jeff

* The technical term for the fear of germs is mysophobia, but I have hellenologophobia (fear of technical words, especially those that come from Greek), so I won’t be using that term here, except of course to write “hellenologophobia.”

Image Credit: From Wikipedia

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14 Responses to Don’t Want to Get Sick? Keep Your Hands to Yourself

  1. Dan says:

    Hello everyone

    First time I hear about this Howie Mandel. Looking at his pictures his head reminds me of someone. I wonder who’s that…

    I do not think to having any phobias.

    That’s nice! the Fist bump link leads to the photo of Obama and Michelle fist bumping. That’s cute.
    I like the fist bump. I would say I prefer it to the hand shake. The hand shake is maybe too intimate.
    I must confess that a few times when I had to shake hand with someone I did not like, soon afterward I went to the restroom in order to wash my hands.

    Well, speaking of viruses, I am glad the Media have kind of put Ebola in second place.
    I think they overreacted a little bit and I had reached a point to turn the radio off because I was really tired of hearing pieces about Ebola.

    Fortunately there are also the good news out there. Like the one from the ESA that landed an human made object on a comet far away in space.
    Hope everything goes right and they get useful info out from this project.
    who knows, maybe they find alien viruses or germs.

    thanks Jeff

  2. Marcos says:

    Hi everyone

    Sometimes I think I’m not a normal person but germaphobe and something like that I’m free, but I have something like no touching doorhandle, handrail, sometimes handshake and washing my hands everytime that I touch something a lot of people touch frequently, but fist bump I never hear or saw something like that.

    Nece day everyone

  3. Dent says:

    Hi everybody
    Dear Jeff I think it’s impossible that we don’t touch to things in work or public places or not greeting with hands!
    In my opinion it’s better to wash our hands with hand sanitizer at least two times in the work and don’t touch to our
    Eyes or mouth or nose!
    then don’t hesitate about germs , most of microorganisms are useful for our body!
    Thanks a lot

  4. Hilario says:

    Banal but true.- Who knows what was it last touched by the extended hand offering you a squeeze of hands? Ancestrally, in terms of evolution, it was by showing up both right and left hand palms without any weapon before handshaking them as to confirm good will, as it was maybe before, to pass chewed food among group close related people, mouth to mouth, what it was creating the more intimate expression of confidence and proximity, that it is now banalization of kiss.
    A possible solution could be once again the latex one material. Like a highly adaptable and resilient textil in the line of an evolution of high performing surgeon gloves. A vending consumable pack of glove pair acting as a not reusable condom for the hand. It could be complemented by antigermen medicine impregnated paper tissues alongside with other common sense ad-hoc measures. The labor absent costs due to spread flu affecting to staffs may by itself largely justify tangible cost of implementation both in terms of productivity but also rise intangibles in public health context because of the collateral issues due to over consumption of medicines and saturation of Public Health dispensaries. Last but not least, aggregated labor cost in money-time that originate by outside work premises smokers that behave as work shirkers and potentially as abusers of health resources. It represent one that could be turned into public income quite rationally. Some mere roughly done estimations can make you sometimes to realize they are missioned just to scare.
    One last scary question: Could help progressive tax to quit fiscal dependence on taxing alcohol and tobacco? More tax, less use and more health. Can it be only a progressive market for pharmaceutical companies?
    Debates while not fostered are admitted.

  5. Dan says:


    I was thinking that maybe one phobia I might have is the one on ticks.
    So that would make me tickaphobe I guess. I am not sure that is the right term.

    Having three well behaved, polite nice and sweet three cats that spend some of their time outside, sometimes, one of them get a tick.

    That does not happen very often, but it does happen at times.
    What I do is:
    First, I DO NOT buy those chemicals they sell at the pharmacy for parasites. That because those cost way too much and I do not like to use chemicals on my cats.

    Secondly, when they come back from wandering around I check them kind of like they do with people at the airport. I believe that is called patting down.
    The animal understand what I am trying to do. So they keep calm and let me do my job. They seems to like that too.

    Needless to say, I love doing that. It is fun and relaxing.
    Once I feel the tick under my digit, king of like a little bump, I pick up the cat and comb out the intruder you know, like it was a terrorist, and trow it in the bathroom bowl.
    Of course, loving all kind of animals I feel sorry for it, but you little nasty tick better find another cat not on one of mine.

    Soo, that would be my phobia.


  6. Julio says:

    It is altogether impossible to live germs free , it is obvious that we must be careful and take reasonable precautions in our daily life but being obsessed with germs is also a irrational phobia .Good hygiene ,washing our hand after going to the toilet , a good immune system ,all add up to stay free of germs. Sheldon Cooper, the nerd character portrayed at The Big Bang Theory is known for his germs phobia.

  7. Val says:

    Hi, everyone!

    Sometimes I behave like a germaphobe, I try not to touch things in the public places, even things that are used for cleaning and washing like soaps, taps, and so on. Also I don’t like to be around other people especially during seasons of viral deseases. I don’t think that it can be called phobia in my case, I believe that I’m just acting sensibly.

    It’s hard to say if I’ve met the people with serious phobias. On the other hand, I guess any person has phobias, maybe not such the strange, but quite common, like the fear of public speaking, the fear of the group of strangers, the fear of being humiliated publicly. Many people are afraid of their own parents. These are pretty common phobias, and we don’t even consider them as phobias.

    The truth is that person must try to get rid of his/her phobias if they hinder his/her ability to lead normal life. Some phobias are quite useful, they help people to not cross borders of ethic and common sense.

  8. Paul says:

    Hi everyone!

    I’ve heard that another common thing that everyone does but which is weakens our natural protection from bad germs is – having shower in the morning. Getting rid of bed bacteria we are also washing off our protective “layer” of good bacteria so we become naked in front of (or exposed to) harsh world.
    Some doctors, including mine one, advise to take a shower before going to bed. So, if you don’t get too sweaty while slipping, may be it will be a useful piece of advice for you.
    Have a nice day, and don’t get sick.

    Thank you Jeff.

  9. Dan says:

    When I get influenza from anyone of my coworkers, as a vendetta I spread the virus so that other people catch it and I am not alone.
    I know that is not a well mannered and civil behavior but it is funny!

    Do not come close when I am feeling ill.


  10. Philippe says:


    In my opinion, it’s impossible to live without germs. Sometimes I’m ill but it’s a best way to fight bad germs.
    Thanks Lucy and Jeff for your amazing job.

  11. Narges says:

    I have hellenologophobia too.
    Fortunately in Iran, no body does such strange experiment (I’m sure).

  12. Tania says:

    Hi! Understanding that Paul is a doctor, thank you Paul for your interesting piece of advice.

  13. Tania says:

    Hi! Reading the Lucy’s post “avoid getting sick with food that hits the ground” again, I have noted that many blog friends did not write for long time.
    For instance, Myo Ko Ko.
    How are you , Myo Ko Ko? I liked your posts.

  14. Tania says:

    Hi! New words to me : mysophobia and hellenologophobia.
    Thank you.

Comments are closed.