Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What To Do About the Flu?

As summer ends, we're going to start thinking a lot more about flu while traveling on business. Whatever degree of severity lies ahead, the swine flu will soon be returning as a thing to be really concerned about while on the road. And not just swine flu, but everyday seasonal flu as well.

There's a story in USA Today about the availability of seasonal flu shots at various airport clinics in the U.S., with a chart listing locations.

Meanwhile, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives is proposing an idea that shaking hands is a custom that might be put on the bench for a while.

The organization sent a recommendation to its global membership suggesting the temporary suspension in business travel of that venerable tradition, the handshake, until the H1N1 influenza virus threat has been reduced to the status of the common cold.

The group's executive director, Susan Gurley, said sidelining the handshake may go a long way in reducing the person-to-person contact that spreads this variety of influenza.

Medical consensus says "told that the best way to impede the spread of the H1N1 flu virus is to repeatedly wash our hands, especially after touching our faces, or coming into contact with someone else’s face or hand," Gurley said. Dropping the handshake for a while thus makes sense, she said.

A statement by the association said:

"Projections regarding the impact of the H1N1 swine influenza are all over the board, with experts citing 30,000 to 90,000 fatalities, and the potential of 1.8 million patients overwhelming hospitals within a six week period -- in the U.S. alone. Published reports indicate that the H1N1 flu virus could easily infect 30 to 50 percent of the US population, causing massive disruptions in schools, business, and travel, as most companies will urge employees with flu-like symptoms to stay at home."


Obviously, cutting back on handshakes also would have an effect on the spread of seasonal flu and other problems like the common cold.

Dunno, it might well be time in general to re-eevaluate the handshake and its annoying grandchild, that awkward kissy-cheek huggy-greet between sexes.

Some of the alternatives being bandied about, like the elbow bump, are just a bit ... mannered for my taste.

I've always kind of liked the Japapese bow. Just a slight motion of the head and a slighter one of the shoulders, connoting acknowledgment and cordiality. But we'd have to lose the hierarchical element. Both parties bow at the same time. No cheating and waiting for the other party to go first.

The mutual greeting could be that old Philadelphia favorite, a word that always says so much: "Yo."

Hey, it could happen.



flybaby said...

I'm at an ISO meeting in the US this week. Didn't notice any reduction in handshakes with the North Americans, buss kisses with the Europeans and nods/bows to the Asians (although several also shook hands with me.)

Lots of hugs with a subset of this crowd simply because, being on the road so much, some of these people are close friends since I see them more than people in my own village.

Back at my own village, my church has moved to a Namaste bow (instead of a hug) for the exchange of the peace which I understand and will support but I worry about the widows in the congregation who may now go weeks or longer without hugs.

As for the flu shot: while I don't agree with them, I'm thinking I'll end up getting one because I'm worried certain countries will not let us in unless we have them.

ChefNick said...

I totally agree. While I have issues with the Japanese, having lived there for five years, I DO appreciate their habit of not touching each other every chance they get, which is the case here in Montreal.

The "two-cheeked kiss," while romantic enough, is also a flu doctor's nightmare.

There is really no need to hug, kiss or shake hands with someone else other than your partner.

Not to mention fleas and the Black Plague.

chocko said...

I propose that we institute the Vulcan Salute as a greeting (in addition to its traditional use as a farewell). For those of you not familiar with Star Trek (are there any?!) see also: