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Last year's flu season was mild, but Valley doctors, clinics and hospitals are bracing for what could be one of the nastiest flu seasons in years and people are being strongly urged to get the flu vaccine.

The average adult touches 30 objects each minute and the virus can live on door knobs, toys, keyboards, TV remotes, light switches and other hard surfaces for 18 hours. Maricopa Medical Center Dr. Robert Fromm said keep the hand sanitizer close by.

"Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible. That's how you transmit the particles that you picked up with your hands. It's not coming in [to your system] through your fingertips."

One place people should be wary of is the grocery store. In a study, the University of Arizona found shopping carts have more bacteria than public restrooms. Fromm recommended wiping down the cart handles with sanitizer.

Fromm said people with the flu should stay home from work. A lot of people fear calling in sick and others just think they can tough it out, but Fromm said those people are getting others sick. People with the flu have a contagion period between one day before symptoms are shown and up to one week after symptoms arrive.

Fromm said anybody above the age of six months should get a flu shot.

Since Oct. 1, there have been 150 cases of the flu in Arizona, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. There were only 70 cases in first nine months of the year.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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