Flu season is upon us, and one casualty is the good old-fashioned handshake.

Yes, that’s right. Nearly 3 in 10 Americans are reluctant to shake your hand because they fear they will catch your germs, according to a survey released Wednesday.

You see, germs lurk everywhere. As a result, 21% of those surveyed said they hesitated to shake someone’s hand in a bar or restaurant; 19% demurred in a store; 18% kept their hands to themselves at the gym (though presumably plenty of other people touched the StairMaster before them); and 15% shoved their hands into their pockets at a party.

Perhaps they are justifiably nervous. Of the 1,003 people who responded to the survey, 33% said they had personally witnessed someone extend a hand that they had just sneezed or coughed into. And 18% reported that this had happened to a friend.

Thankfully, there is something you can do to make the handshake less scary: Carry some alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you! With sanitizer available, 61% of those surveyed said they’d feel more free to extend a friendly hand.

The survey was conducted last month among a nationally representative sample of American adults. It was commissioned by the makers of – surprise! – Purell. They even paid David Givens, director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Wash., to review and comment on the findings, which he calls “significant and alarming.”

Don’t worry, handshakers of America, Givens says this story has a happy ending: “I’m encouraged that the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers could represent an antidote to the possible demise of our warm, human handshake.”

Source: Los Angeles Times