Global Handwashing Day Tip: Fist Bump for Hand Hygiene

Global Handwashing Day on October 15 celebrates public hand hygiene—the culture of washing one’s hands with soap. Simultaneously the day seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of handwashing and assess the state of handwashing in every country.

The habit of handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which are together responsible for the majority of all child deaths. Global Handwashing Day focuses on children because their habits are more malleable and because they are the most affected by the consequences of not washing with soap. More than 200 million people take part in Global Handwashing Day. Their website includes games, videos, posters and much more.

While we’re talking about celebrating: This past summer, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) awarded its first Distinguished Scientist Award to Elaine Larson for her contributions to handwashing and epidemiological research. She’s the Associate Dean for Research at the Columbia School of Nursing and professor of epidemiology at Mailman School of Public Health, and a co-author of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on hand hygiene for healthcare workers.

Dr. Larson was one of the first advocates for alcohol-based hand sanitizers. She presented the results of her research on the effects of electronic monitoring on hand hygiene compliance at IDWeek 2012 in San Diego.

Notice we didn’t say “High Five” in the title of this post. And we definitely wouldn’t offer a hardy handshake. Recent research from West Virginia University published in the Journal of Hospital Infection explores the role of the handshake in bacterial transmission. Fist bumps in place of handshakes may reduce transmission due to the fist’s smaller contact surface area and the shorter duration of the bump. Maybe the kids on the street have a good thing going!