Is it safe to shake hands at graduation?

How many pathogens per handshake? Is it dangerous to shake hands at a school graduation?

Dr David Bishai [pictured here] and a team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in the US, did a small experiment. They wanted to gauge whether the people most at peril should worry about it.

Their report, Quantifying School Officials’ Exposure to Bacterial Pathogens at Graduation Ceremonies Using Repeated Observational Measures, has been published in the Journal of School Nursing.

“This study was designed to measure the degree to which principals and deans are potentially exposed to the risk of pathogen acquisition as part of their occupational duties to shake hands”…

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

BONUS: Karen Hopkin reviews the study, in her Scientific American podcast.