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ATLANTA -- Are the "sick calls" piling up in your office? Are the Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer flying off the shelves?

It seems everywhere you turn, the sound of coughing, sneezing and sniffling is growing louder and louder.

Welcome to cold and flu season.

But wouldn't it be nice to know when a wave of illness is coming, so you can stay away? According to Graham Dodge, creator of sickweather.com, his website does just that.

"We call ourselves the Doppler radar for sickness," Dodge said. "We search Facebook and Twitter for people complaining about their symptoms. Once we've identified through social media who's getting sick, we're able to alert other users as to when that's happening so they can take precautions."

A recent "sick map" for Atlanta shows an increase in the common cold, fever and cough from the beginning of the week to the end.

Even though it's social media based, Dr. Charlotte Grayson Mathis of Piedmont Hospital said the model isn't far off base. She has seen an increase in cold and flu patients over the past two weeks - a normal trend for the end of November.

Dr. Mathis warns sickness rates will really pick up in December and January.

Dodge said the website recently launched a smartphone app to alert users before they enter a "sick zone" - an area where other users have reported illness.

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