The holidays are a time for family, friends and food, but it’s also a time for germ-filled gatherings spreading colds and influenza among all those close-knit relatives and revelers.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health‘s influenza surveillance map, some parts of the state are heavily impacted. Tuscaloosa County has escaped most of the flu so far, but a lot can happen when people get together from near and far.

Dr. Phillip Bobo, who works at Emergi-Care Medical Clinic, said we could see our flu numbers going up after the holidays.

“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,” Bobo said. “A lot of people travel and that’s how we start bringing it back in from other places.”

Flu season peaks between December and February, and this time last year the state was experiencing such an outbreak that Gov. Kay Ivey issued a public health emergency.

“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,” Bobo said.

The department of public health encourages everyone older than 6 months get vaccinated for the flu.

You can cut down on your chances for getting the flu or a cold by simply washing your hands often with soap for at least 30 seconds at a time.

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