HUDDERSFIELD has coughed and sneezed its way into 2005.
Hundreds of people have been laid low by coughs and colds, with many taking time off work. Now a health chief has urged Huddersfield people to stay indoors and stop spreading illness.
Dr Sohail Bhatti, director of public health for Huddersfield Central and South Huddersfield primary care trusts, made his plea after a spread of infections.
Hundreds of people have suffered from coughs and colds over the past few weeks.
Many firms have had people calling in sick.
And shops and chemists across Huddersfield have been selling large amounts of home cold remedies and cough mixtures.
Dr Bhatti is urging people suffering seasonal ailments - including coughs, colds, vomiting and diarrhoea - to stay at home to stop other people catching the illnesses.
He said: "A lot of people want to soldier on, but they would benefit more, if they can, from staying indoors and drinking lots of hot drinks.
"It is better for them and it is their civic duty, rather than going out into the middle of people, spreading illness."
Despite reports of absences at a number of organisation across Huddersfield Dr Bhatti does not believe infection levels are any worse than previous winters.
He said: "It has been an average year.
"One of the great concerns is flu, which is nationally running at 30 cases per 100,000 consultations.
"We don't generally take preventative action until it hits 50.
"People don't get it that often. The last bout I got was a couple of years ago and I couldn't get out of bed.
"It is a serious condition and has mortality attached to it. Older folk do die."
But Dr Bhatti said new ways of dealing with winter ailments had helped to stop illnesses spreading.
"The vaccination uptake for flu is doing well and we have a number of drugs if it goes above a particular level."
But he admitted that winter was an ideal time for bugs to spread.
He said: "More people are indoors, huddled together with the windows closed."
Huddersfield pharmacist Abdul Hafiz, of Bradford Road Pharmacy, said:
"It is a good idea to come to pharmacies first, because it eases GPs' work."
David Berry, of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce at Aspley, said absence levels had not been as bad as previous years."