‘Tis the season of holiday hugs and kisses. It’s also the season where illnesses are spread faster than running reindeer. Some churches are eliminating the traditional handshaking at the start of services to cut down on potential germ-spreading contact. Cerro Gordo County epidemiologist Gretchen Nissen says flu cases will likely appear in Iowa soon. As much as it’s a special time of year to get together with family and friends, Nissen says people who are sick should consider staying at home so they don’t spread their bug to others. Nissen says just using common sense when being around people is a key to preventing the spread of illnesses like the flu or whooping cough.She says rules of basic hygiene apply — if you’re coughing, cover your mouth. When you sneeze, use a tissue and throw it away. Wash your hands frequently. Nissen says even though there have not been any confirmed reports of the flu in the state as yet, we probably will start seeing some in the near future.For more information about keeping healthy during the holiday season, you can refer to the state health department’s website at “www.idph.state.ia.us”.