Better Not Cough: Santas Lobby for Swine Flu Shots

Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom, New Hampshire's deputy state epidemiologist, said going gloveless and using gel between each child would be the best option. She cautioned that viruses can live on unwashed hands for two to eight hours.

"If your hand was warm and moist, it could live longer," she said. "It depends on whether you have a glob of mucus on your hand where it's going to live happily versus a tiny speck. It's kind of disgusting, but it would depend on what was on your hand."

Dr. Jack Turco, director of health services at Dartmouth College, said Santa might consider greeting children from a few feet away rather than holding them on his lap, or asking children with coughs to stand in a separate line.

"If we take this really seriously, and I think we should because people are dying, it wouldn't be inappropriate to say this is a year maybe we shouldn't do these mass gatherings," he said.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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