Make like the Fonz to fight the swine flu

Placer County health officials recommending thumbs up over handshake
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Handshakes are on their way out as swine flu concerns mount. At least temporarily. Instead, health-conscious Placer County residents may want to channel their inner Fonz. A thumbs-up sign instead of a handshake is one of the recommendations Placer County health officials say can help reduce the spread of swine flu. The traditional signal that all is well is part of several social-distancing techniques the county Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control are suggesting on top of the requisite vigilant hand-washing. “The concept of social distancing is nothing new,” said Dr. Jim Gandley, county health assistant director. “I doesn’t mean barricading yourself in a closet or having a sign nailed on your door. It’s more the subtle day-to-day things we can do.” A good solid handshake usually seals the deal at businesses like Auburn’s Powell’s Auto Repair. But owner Richard Powell said he’ll consider a thumbs up in light of flu concerns. “But it would take some getting used to,” Powell said. Larry Gosch of Encore Music Center in Downtown Auburn said he’s sticking with the handshake for the time being but is looking a little harder for those sanitizing hand wipes he has somewhere at the business. “But I’m not worried because I think we have a lot better sanitation than they do in Mexico,” Gosch said. “I’m really surprised the health department is taking it that seriously.” Dave Rosenthal, KAHI 950 late-afternoon show host, said he’s already been moving away from the handshake. Rosenthal said he’ll usually shake a half-dozen hands on a normal day but can ramp up to 100 or more at an event like next Friday’s Cruise Nite. Rosenthal is fist bumping instead of hand shaking. “If it’s good enough for the president and Michelle, it’s good enough for the rest of us,” he said. The fist bump wouldn’t be enough to stop the spread of flu, though, because there is still skin-to-skin contact, Gandley said. “Contact is contact,” he said. As well as going with a thumbs up sign, people may want to avoid social hugging, Gandley said. At work, teleconferences may be a good option when possible instead of group meetings, and may also save travel time. “These little changes in our daily routines can have a significant impact on the spread of all kinds of contagions,” Gandley said. Disposable tissue use should include throwing the soiled paper product away right after use and immediate hand-washing after that, he said. People should use their own pen and own phone to help eliminate unnecessary contact, he said. The Centers for Disease Control continues to stress steps people can take to curb the likelihood of contracting flu, including: - Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze - Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective - Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent spreading germs - If you are sick, stay home and limit contact with other people - Avoid close contact such as hand-holding, hugging and kissing with people who are sick - Avoid sharing food, drinks and lip gloss with others As of late Thursday afternoon, the county had no confirmed cases of swine flu but samples of potential cases continue to be taken for testing. There have also been no school closures or recommendations to cancel events, Gandley said. “We are asking that people use extreme caution,” he said. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at