The dreaded flu and influenza-like-illnesses arrived early and are spreading fast throughout the state.
"Influenza can be a deadly disease. We don't talk about that a lot. So if someone catches the flu, be very careful and watch for any increases in illnesses, any sudden change in a person’s illness. And seek medical attention if they don't improve," says Christie Green, with the Madison County Health Department.
Students are frequently visiting the nurse’s office and getting sent home. Madison County has seen a thirty percent increase in the month of December.
"So we're watching that very closely. Frequently that's an indicator that illnesses like the flu are circulating in our community," adds Green.
Now that the state has declared the flu as widespread, health officials are urging you to take necessary precautions to protect your family.
As always, flu shots are highly recommended, but if you get sick first, you are encouraged to stay home.
"If I'm sick, it helps my family and my coworkers if I stay home and don't bring that disease out to them," says Green.
Students are also encouraged to stay home and rest when they are sick in an effort to avoid spreading it to others at school.
Erin Stewart, the Community Education Director for Madison County schools says they have stepped up their sanitation efforts, "It's just something that during the school day, we're trying to make sure that we step up our efforts, keeping people safe from the germs that may be spreading and trying to get to that holiday break do we can have some time to really do some major cleaning and gets those buildings back to normal."
Stewart says they did notice a dip in attendance last week due to sickness but this week things have returned to normal.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends anyone over the age of six months get a flu vaccine