OTTAWA, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Seasonal influenza is spreading throughout Canada with 3,500 cases as of Dec. 15, while a year ago there were only 182 cases, officials say.
Officials at Public Health Agency of Canada said the flu typically strikes any time between November and April, with a peak somewhere near the end of January. However, this year influenza appeared much earlier and the majority of cases reported are an aggressive sub-type of the H3N2 virus, which is more severe than other recent bouts of flu, the CBC reported.
Dr. Michael Gardam, infectious disease consultant at the University Health Center in Toronto, said a "huge number" of patients were coming into the emergency room in the past few weeks.
"Most people who get the flu don't end up hospitalized," Gardam told the CBC. "We are seeing large numbers of people in the hospital who are coming in and are kept in the hospital."
Eastern Health, the largest health authority in Newfoundland and Labrador, closed the doors to three of its health agencies in St. John's Wednesday to help stop the spread of the flu and it is also restricting visits to a nursing home after an increase in seniors contracting the virus.
In southern Ontario, Windsor medical centers reported nearly triple the amount of flu patients compared to last year, which was a very mild year, heath officials said.