A Cairo pediatrician has launched an anti-kissing campaign in Egypt, warning the practice – even smacking on the cheek – can spread diseases such as avian flu.

Adel Ashur founded the organization No Kisses After Today, saying exchanging smooches can also pass on tuberculosis, meningitis, herpes and hepatitis B, bronchitis, scarlet fever, measles, German measles, common colds, boils and abscesses.

“Despite cynical reactions at the beginning, the Egyptian intellectual layer has started to take this idea seriously, understanding that this habit is unhealthy,” he told Albawaba.

To date, Egyptian medical authorities report no cases of bird flu being transmitted person to person in the country. But Ashur says the virus could be in the incubation phase with the person carrying it not exhibiting any of the disease’s symptoms. He fears an epidemic once that latency period is over.

A 4-year-old girl tested positive for bird flu last week, bringing to 36 the number of people in Egypt infected with the deadly virus strain since February 2006.

Ashur warns mothers, especially, not to permit their children to be kissed. He says kids under 14 have immune systems that are not fully developed.

“Every Egyptian mother should be very determined in foiling attempts of others to kiss their children, even if they get angry responses,” he said.

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