In flu times, there's no excuse for A-Rod's 'farmer's snort'

GET A HANKY: Judging by what Yankee Alex Rodriguez sent flying out of his nose in Game 3 of the World Series, he might not konw there's a flu pandemic about.
GET A HANKY: Judging by what Yankee Alex Rodriguez sent flying out of his nose in Game 3 of the World Series, he might not konw there's a flu pandemic about. (Jed Jacobsohn - Getty Images)
By Sarah Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 5, 2009

Going into Wednesday night's Game 6 of the World Series between the Phillies and the Yankees, what we worried about most was a replay of this: In the first inning of Game 3, the TV camera zeroed in on Alex Rodriguez just in time to catch the marquee Yankee player put a finger to his nose and send an effluvial trajectory into open space.

Yes, a snot rocket. (Eeee-uw.) Seeing it was gross enough, but what about what we didn't see? The spray pattern, the invisible "droplet spread," borne on the wind, maybe right onto the kisser of some sweet young Philly fan in a box seat.

Does A-Rod not know we have a swine flu pandemic on our hands? And potentially in our snot?

Kate Hudson, we appeal to you, girlfriend: Toss him if he does it again.

Public nose-blowing isn't pretty even under the best of circumstances. Doing it that way -- in formal nomenclature, it's called the "farmer snort" -- is especially disgusting. Yes, we understand it's the method preferred by jocks and those who yearn to be them. We've seen it in the peloton of the Tour de France. We've seen it on the gridiron. (Et tu, Brett Favre?) We've even seen Bruce Springsteen do it, repeatedly, during live shows.

We've seen it all too often, and we've quickly looked away. But now, when President Obama has declared H1N1 a national emergency, when signs are posted everywhere reminding us to use tissues and wash our hands, when even the Metro system is broadcasting lectures about covering up our coughs and sneezes, it's time for the insanitarity to end.

Dudes, stop honking it out your nose.

"It's basically aerosolizing potentially infectious bodily fluids," says Abbigail Tumpey, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who handles infection control issues. "It would've been better if he had just wiped it on his jersey."

Preferably, she says, people should use a tissue, and employ "some hand hygiene afterwards."

But, you say, A-Rod kept his hands clear of it! Maybe he did, and maybe his high-fives were uncontaminated as a result. But he didn't act to contain the spray. What about the other players on the field? (Remember how flu swept through the Yankee clubhouse in June?) And what about the fans in the stands? Our imagination runs amok, visions of germ clouds drifting over cheese steaks.

But that's not the extent of the peril: What about the kids watching on TV? Do we really want them pulling a Rodriguez on the playground?

"It concerns me," says William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt Medical Center (and a lifelong Yankee fan). "And it would concern my mother more. It's unseemly behavior. I hope he went into the dugout afterwards and used some hand-sanitizer gel."

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