Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Competing at the London Olympics? Practice Hand Hygiene

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Competing at the London Olympics? Practice Hand Hygiene

Article excerpt

The staff of The Morning File has been placed under orders not to shake hands with anyone. We're on a Stage IV air-kiss-only alert.

The prohibition comes at the advice of the British Olympic Association's chief medical officer. Looking ahead to the games in London this summer, Dr. Ian McCurdie discouraged any of the traditional physical contact among competitors greeting and congratulating one another.

He said germs could be spread among hand-shakers, and the Olympic village environment could be a "pretty hostile one" for infections. He didn't say anything about the athletes wearing surgical masks during the competition, although that would be a logical next step - - especially for those Greco-Roman wrestlers who intertwine closer than is customary of porn stars.

"Essentially we are talking about minimizing risk of illness and optimizing resistance -- minimizing exposure and getting bugs into the system and being more robust to manage those, should that happen," Dr. McCurdie explained.

"Hand hygiene is it," he stressed. "It is all about hand hygiene."

And there you have the new catch phrase for The Morning File: "Hand hygiene is it."

It used to be "Pitt is it," but that was before recent misfortunes befalling the football and basketball teams, so now we more accurately say, "Pitt was it." Meanwhile, "Hand hygiene is it" simply rolls off the tongue, which is a good thing since everyone's tongue -- but especially Madonna's -- is infested with millions of bacteria.

Are pat-downs hygenic?

Dr. McCurdie's advice makes perfect sense in an age when it is becoming all the harder to avoid physical interaction with strangers. With an additional 200,000 or so people occupying the planet every 24 hours, it can be hard making it through a day without the kind of undesired contact an NBA player encounters while driving into the paint. .

Even without Port Authority schedules being scaled back any further -- which seems a certainty to occur in September -- getting on and off the bus at rush hour already resembles some of the hand- to-hand combat scenes in "Braveheart."

And at many sporting events these days, you're patted down at the entrance by some rent-a-frisker eager to catch his first sports- loving suicide bomber. …

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