TOPEKA, Kan (WIBW) -- During the winter months, there is an increase in travel, visits with family - and upper respiratory illnesses such as a cold or influenza.
"If you haven't gotten your flu shot you get your flu shot," Dr. Mary Franz with St. Francis Hospital said.
Dr. Franz has treated at least two people with the flu this year.
"I give flu shot clear up to the end of January because flu season lasts, in this area at least, through the end of March with an occasional straggler in to May," she explained.
She says symptoms of the flu are similar to those of a cold, but includes body aches and a fever of 101° F or higher. If you have symptoms of the flu, you should visit your primary doctor immediately.
If you do not have primary doctor you can call 1-8334NEWDOC (1-833-463-9362) to find one nearby.
In addition to getting the flu shot Dr. Franz advises people take other precautions this holiday season.
To start she says to always cover your cough with your arm, and regularly wash our hands for at least 20 seconds.
"Oh my gosh Dr. Mary, how long is 20 seconds. It is one time through the alphabet song. It is one time through twinkle twinkle little star. Or it is one time through a verse of Mary had a little lamb," she said.
If you are hosting family in your home, Dr Franz suggests keeping some key items handy.
"Stock up on extra boxes of Kleenex, and have them handy before the family comes over," she added.
If there's food at your gathering it shouldn't be left out for to long.
"If it's you know within an hour after the meal or so you should get things cleaned up off the table and refrigerated so that we can minimize growth of those types of bacteria that can cause food poisoning," Dr. Franz advised.
However Dr. Franz said the best way to prevent the spreading of germs are very simple.
"Hand wash. Hand wash. Hand wash. Cover your nose and mouth. Wash your hands," she said.