The purpose of this study was to estimate the risk of acquiring pathogenic bacteria as a result of shaking hands at graduation ceremonies. School officials participating in graduation ceremonies at elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools were recruited. Specimens were collected before and immediately following graduation. Cultures identified any pathogenic bacteria in each specimen. Subjects shook a total of 5,209 hands. Staphylococcus aureus was separately detected on one pregraduation right hand, one postgraduation right hand, and one postgraduation left hand. Nonpathogenic bacteria were collected in 93% of specimens. Pregraduation and postgraduation specimens were of different strains. We measured a risk of one new bacterial acquisition in a sample exposed to 5,209 handshakes yielding an overall estimate of 0.019 pathogens acquired per handshake. We conclude that a single handshake at a graduation offers only a small risk of bacterial pathogen acquisition.
- hand contamination
- methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nursing (miscellaneous)