London: Many may find it a weird advice, but experts say "don't shake hands, just touch elbows" the next time you meet someone - this will help prevent the spread of infectious diseases like flu.
Nathan Wolfe, a virus expert at Stanford University, has suggested that people should use a "safe shake" like touching elbows or follow the example of the Japanese and take a bow to avoid the spread of infections.
According to Dr Wolfe, diseases such as stomach bugs, flu and colds spread readily via skin contact.
In his new book 'The Viral Storm', Dr Wolfe says: "We should advocate a safe shake by touching elbows rather than hands. Certainly this would help to decrease the spread of some infectious agents in the same way that sneezing into an elbow, rather than in a hand, does."
Even a new research into the flu virus has found that it could be caught from contaminated kettles, door handles, work surfaces and remote controls, where it can survive for up to
24 hours.
Ben Killingley, an infectious disease specialist at Nottingham University, who has carried out research into influenza, said: "If people pick up the virus on their nose, tongue or eye they can become infected."
He also said that if people washed their hands regularly, then it would not be necessary to stop shaking hands.
Viruses can be spread via airborne water droplets sprayed by an infected person coughing or sneezing, especially in crowded spaces like buses, tubes and trains, according to the experts.
But it is now thought that there may be a much greater risk of the spread of infection in the office, where people may be expected to shake the hands of many colleagues or strangers during a single day - allowing the disease to be spread at a much faster rate.