'Terrorist fist jabs' are 95 percent more sanitary than conventional handshakes, study finds

According to an article published Monday in the American Journal of Infection Control, the alternative hand gesture Fox News once dubbed "a terrorist fist jab" is significantly more hygienic than a conventional handshake.


David Whitworth of Aberystwyth University in Wales studied the bacterial transfer from a number of common greetings, including the fist-bump, the high-five, and the handshake, and found that the fist-bump only communicates one-twentieth as much bacterial matter as a handshake and one-fifth as much as a high-five.

The reason that fist-bumps are more sanitary is simply a matter of surface area. A fist bump entails far less contact between the two hands, and for a far shorter duration.

During cold and flu season, Whitworth emphasized the importance of using a hand greeting that doesn't facilitate the transmission of bacterial and viral material -- especially in hospitals, where despite the focus placed on hand-washing, handshakes are still the most common form of greeting, according to Mary Lou Manning, president-elect of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Despite its long history of being used as a greeting by germophobic individuals like television's Howie Mandel, when the president was first observed using the gesture in 2008, Fox News' E.D. Hill asked whether it was "a fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab?" before claiming that it is a "gesture everyone seems to interpret differently."

["President Obama fist-bumps a Make-a-Wish foundation recipient" via White House Flickr stream]