Fear of germs in the USA, anitbacterial liquid dispensers

I have a friend from Paris visiting me this weekend. Michael found out I wanted to start a body language discussion group and wanted me to start it today. So check out my Facebook group, Body Language Discussion Group. Since Michael arrived Friday, he has been fascinated by all the antibacterial liquid dispensers and signs about washing hands and other funny cleanliness issues in the States. We went to Wendy's today. I know, I know, I am taking him to all the hot spots in the U.S. (I need to explain that they don't have Wendy's in France and Michael worked at Wendy's in High School.) The Wendy's manager who was serving us said, "Thank you for washing your hands," to an employee returning from the restroom. Michael asked her about it and she said it is something they have to say so the customers know the employees wash their hands. He simply could not figure out why we are so germ conscious. I said it was marketing by the companies that make all the germ-fighting products. I shared with him my experiences with people’s fear of shaking hands that I have written about on my website and here on my blog. What do you think about our fear of germs in the U.S.? Do you think it is affecting our interactions? If you live in or travel to other countries what are the differences?