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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A jump in the number of flu cases across the country means you may need to protect yourself from getting sick as you head to your holiday destination.

“In the last several weeks, we’ve seen an increase in the number of flu cases here in Western Pennsylvania and nationally,” said Dr. Marc Itsowitz, of Allegheny Health Network. “Every time you go out in public, or you touch other people’s hands or surfaces, there’s the potential of you becoming infected.”

Ciera Trainer, of Texas, traveled to Pittsburgh for the holidays, and worried all the way here on the train.

“We actually had a poor little baby that was real sick behind us, and I was like, ‘I really hope the parents are covering up and everything, ’cause I’m not trying to get sick,'” said Trainer.

It’s a scene the AGH doctors has imagined.

“Imagine sitting on an airplane and someone is sitting and coughing, that one person can infect many people around them. Certainly, if you are at a holiday party and someone is infected, you are at risk,” said Dr. Itsowitz.

So what can you do to try and avoid the flu? Well, medical experts still recommend a flu shot, even if it’s not as effective as the experts thought. Then, wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based gel.

Jim Wolley, of Beaver County, just got over the flu.

“I was with some little boy who was 5-years-old, he kept sniffling and he got sick. And sure enough, five days later, I joined him,” he said.

So, if you are traveling over the river and through the woods, relax, you can enjoy the holiday. And, according to the experts, don’t hold back.

“I think you can still hug grandma, but wash your hands frequently, and if someone is sick, try to avoid contact with them,” Dr. Itsowitz says.

Lynne Hayes-Freeland