Posted by: mkirschmd | April 29, 2009

Can You Catch Swine Flu from a Doorknob?

andover2062020antique20pewter1The swine flu situation is leading us from concern to anxiety.  With the first American fatality now reported, we may be entering a pre-panic phase.  The high voltage media coverage has raised everyone’s temperature on this issue.  One of the pitfalls of hysteria is that folks start creating and clinging to myths, grasping for any response that they believe can keep them well.  It feels good for some people to take action, even if the action does no good at all.   


Medical myths have been present since ancient times and persist today.  How many of us avoid touching someone’s poison ivy rash because we fear it is contagious?   How many of us have been told that reading in a dim light can damage our eyesight?   How many of us were told as kids not to go swimming until a half hour or so after eating?   How many teenage boys believe that shaving makes their beards grow back faster?   All of these beliefs share a common element; they are false.


The spread of swine flu has created a potent myth now practiced by several countries, despite that it is rejected by all reputable health authorities.   Russia, China, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the Philippines have banned pork products claiming that this will reduce risks of swine flu infection in their populations.  This has made the pork industry hog-wild.  No credible scientist endorses this myth and no one has become ill from pork & beans.  My response to these countries is to recall a memorable line from a fast food commercial aired years ago, ‘Where’s the beef?’


At Travel Clinics of America, we provide straight talk on swine flu and other diseases and safety issues.   Click here if you are curious if you can catch swine flu from a doorknob.  Our website is a myth-free-zone.  For example, you won’t find us cautioning you to avoid the influenza vaccine because if might give you the flu.  If you still believe that fairy tale, then you probably also ‘feed a fever and starve a cold’.  Of course, this doesn’t help your cold, but at least you’re doing something.



  1. Great article. But if you can’t catch swine flu from a door knob why are we told to wash our hands more often?

  2. Swine flu is primarily spread through the air, from the coughs and sneezes of infected people. However, it is possible to contract the illness if an individual touches a contaminated surface, like a doorknob, and then touches his mouth giving the virus entry into his respiratory tract. This is why when schools are now temporarily closed, surfaces are scrubbed and sanitized. Handwashing is a critical protective measure.

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