Don't Gimme Five!

Swine flu has us thinking. Maybe it's time to change how we greet each other? The CDC recommends that people maintain a 3 to 6 foot distance to cut down on viral spread. So here, NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey and All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen illustrate some options to keep you social and safe.

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The Xena
You may think you're safe with the hand bump, but even knuckles can carry pathogens. President Obama wants YOU to wash your hands -- the front, the back, and even under your nails where viruses and bacteria can hide out. Maintain that lather for at least 20 seconds. That's the entire Happy Birthday song. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is pushing the elbow bump as a safe alternative, but that can hurt your funny bone. Use your forearm instead. Be like Xena, Warrior Princess.

 

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Bow Nouveau
The tete-a-tete is gaining popularity in at least one Maryland high school. And when President Obama and Michelle do it, it's downright cute. But this is a definite no — even if you hold your breath. Try out the bow, or maybe even curtsy.

 

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The Wave
A cowboy howdy or the royal wave are good alternatives to the classic handshake, especially in the colder, drier months of the year when the flu virus stays around longer after you cough or sneeze. That means more virus in the air to inhale... and more chances for you to pick it up from someone's hands.

 

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Smackdown
Two kisses or one? Either way, this is a close encounter. The CDC recommends that people should stay away from any kind of kiss if you have flulike symptoms... or want to avoid them. Don't forget you can carry the virus before you feel sick. Try some variation of the foot smack — there has never been a documented case of flu passing from foot to foot.

 

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Snap And Flick
High-five and you might as well be kissing when it comes to passing on the virus. A snap and flick of your finger is an instant hello, and it can work for kids in schools — well-known breeding grounds for viruses.

 

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Self Hug
Hugging yourself might seem odd at first, but surely it can catch on... maybe.

Producers: Jessica Goldstein and Vikki Valentine; Photographer: Becky Lettenberger; Designer: Nelson Hsu; Editor: Alison Richards /NPR

 

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