Respiratory illnesses on the rise in Alabama ahead of holiday gatherings
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The CDC reports flu, RSV and could cases are up in the U.S., and health leaders expect those numbers to rise as the holidays approach.

Dr. Celeste Reese-Willis says this time of year is common for flu, RSV and COVID. Locally, she’s been seeing more COVID cases and with holiday gatherings and parties, she anticipates those numbers to continue to increase.

Dr. Reese-Willis said it’s not uncommon to see respiratory illnesses this time of year, but there are things you can do to make sure you and your family are protected.

“If you’re sick, please stay at home. Please take a home COVID test if you can. Go see your physician, go to urgent care, get a flu test if you need to do that,” Dr. Reese-Willis said. “Take a test so that you know what you have so that you don’t put other people at risk, especially our older population.”

When it comes to protecting your kids, Dr. Reese-Willis said teaching safe practices at home can go a long way.

“Washing their hands properly and doing it often. Making sure that they’re covering their mouth, coughing into their elbow so they’re not releasing those antigens out into the atmosphere,” Dr. Reese-Willis said. “If they are having symptoms or have a fever, make sure that your child gets tested before sending them to school.”

When it comes to big holiday gatherings, Dr. Reese-Willis says to make sure you are creating a safe environment for guests.

“If you’re gathering and it’s say 50 people in one house, make sure that we have good air circulation. Let some of the windows up. I know it’s cold but with lots of people gathering inside, it’s warmer inside. So getting good air circulation,” Dr. Reese-Willis said. “Number two, make sure you have little hand sanitizers near where the food is so we can make sure that everyone has clean hands. Making sure that we have clean surfaces.”

Dr. Reese-Willis said the best thing you can do to protect yourself from illness this holiday season is to get your flu shot, your COVID booster and to always wash your hands.

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