When you're off to Grandma's house to visit family this Christmas, or headed to a Holiday Party with your friends, be careful, because social gatherings are also the time that influenza can be easily spread.

Health officials say that some parts of the state have already been affected by the flu virus. Fortunately, Tuscaloosa County hasn't been hit as hard as other parts of the state. However, we could see more folks coming down with the flu after the holidays.

Dr. Phillip K. Bobo, of Emergi-Care Medical Clinic, told WVUA 23 News, “We normally see more flu after Christmas because that’s when people get together, mingle, hug, kiss, eat and share food, and that’s how you spread the virus. A lot of people travel and that’s how we start bringing it back in from other places.” Dr. Bobo also added, “In our population here with students being gone, that knocks the numbers down too, but when they come back in January that’s when it really picks up.”

How can you lessen your chances of catching the virus? Health experts say washing your hands frequently with soap for at least 30 seconds at a time can help. They also encourage anyone over 6 months of age to get vaccinated for the flu.

So, enjoy your Holiday Celebrations with family and friends....just don't forget the hand sanitizer.

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