It might not be the most romantic advice to offer before Valentine’s Day, but this doctor’s heart is in the right place: Hold the kisses on Valentine’s Day if there’s a chance you or your partner has the flu.

Jorge Parada, M.D., medical director, infectious disease at Loyola University Health System, points out that Valentine’s Day falls during the peak season for diseases like seasonal and H1N1 flu, mono and colds. And unfortunately, it might be difficult to ascertain whether your sweetie is sick with the flu: people with infectious diseases start shedding the virus before they experience the full effect of the illness.

Parada offers the following tips to stay flu-free on Valentine’s Day:

Do get a flu shot. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving – you protect yourself, your loved one and you stop the virus from spreading to others,” said Parada. “If that isn’t sexy and say ‘I love you,’ I don’t know what does.”

Don’t share utensils or glasses. “Humans can transmit some infections through saliva,” Parada said. “A glass, fork or napkin can act as a bridge and pass the bug along to another person when that shared object is used by one infected person and then used by another,”

Do think twice about sharing chapstick or linens, too. “Someone can have a cold sore that hasn’t erupted yet and use lip balm which is then shared, and the cold sore virus – otherwise known as herpes – is transmitted,” said Parada. Albeit less frequently, shared linens, such as pillowcases, napkins or towels, also are transmitters of infections.

Don’t kiss or have close body contact if you feel unwell. “Throwing up and blowing your nose is not fun. No one enjoys being ill, so sickness is not something to share. Being upfront and honest when you feel under the weather will be appreciated,” Parada advised.

And remember: It’s never too late to get your flu shot.

“Having a flu shot is definitely sexy,” Parada said. “It beats the flu every time!”

Give Flu the Kiss-Off on Valentine’s Day
EHS Today