A nasty flu epidemic has been hitting Illinois hard since before Christmas, but it hit the Chicago suburb of St. Charles so hard that classes had to be canceled district wide this week.

It's no secret, schools are a germ factory, but hundreds of students sick at the same time? That's cause for drastic action, which is exactly what St. Charles District 303 did.

Classes were also cancelled for Tuesday, so this epidemic is no joke, and if you ask me, way too close to home.

Obviously practicing good hygiene and getting preventative flu shots are solid ways to prevent getting the flu, but nothing is 100 percent effective against this nastiness. To better your chances of staying germ free, perhaps you may want to try some of these flu and cold preventatives I found on health.com:

  • Leave the booze behind. It interferes with sleep quality which makes you more susceptible to disease.
  • Bulk up on the protein. Research has proven that diets low in protein deplete your immune system.
  • Hit the zinc. Feel a cold coming on? Grab the Cold-Eeze lozenges or something with zinc in it ASAP.
  • Take care of your nose. During prime flu and cold season, doing a daily nasal rinse with saline can flush out unwanted germs and yuckiness.