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      Sicknesses spreading easier

      A cough and Christmas can go together, according to Dr. Brian Smith, regional director for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

      "You've got people in close contact, but you've especially got school children back at home from school."

      Smith said cold weather and holidays put people inside, in close contact.

      This spurs the spread of sickness.

      Add children and germs run rampant.

      "Kids tend to associate closely with each other, said Smith. They put their hands all over each other. They play around, horse around, and that's part of it, but you know they probably don't wash their hands quite as carefully."

      Cold temperatures encourage certain sicknesses.

      "Some viruses spread more easily when the temperatures are 40 to 50 degrees, said Smith. Flu virus does that, possibly cold virus, but they just tend to spread more easily right then."

      Smith said hand washing works best to prevent illness.

      Once you've caught that cold, Smith said some remedies don TMt work like one might think.

      "Unfortunately Vitamin C and Zinc have been shown not to have any beneficial effects," said Smith.

      Smith recommended a cabinet staple.

      "Chicken soup has been shown to be helpful."

      He also said to get plenty of rest.

      Smith said the common cold accounts for about 30-percent of what doctors TM report treating right now.

      He said the flu is only at about three-percent.

      He said he thinks the low flu percentage is a result of more people getting a flu shot.