Flu season surging just in time for the holidays in many parts of the country

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Flu season surging just in time for the holidays in many parts of the country

TORONTO - Health officials say flu activity seems to be surging just in time for the holidays in several parts of the country.

They are suggesting that people who haven't received a flu shot can still get one.

And they are urging people who are sick not to visit elderly relatives or attend holiday gatherings.

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Michael Gardam says taking part in holiday social events when you are sick is being unfair to others who attend.

Dr. John Spika of the Public Health Agency of Canada says flu activity has gotten off to an earlier start compared to the past few years.

The predominant strain circulating in Canada is the influenza A virus H3N2, which typically causes more severe illness, especially in seniors.

Spika says activity is high in Ontario and Quebec, and is rising in the Prairies and Atlantic Canada.

Spika, who heads the agency's centre for immunizations and respiratory infectious diseases, says with the gathering of people over the holidays flu transmission will probably pick up steam.

Dr. Danuta Skowronski, a flu expert with the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, says public health officials liken influenza to Dr. Seuss's Grinch (from "The Grinch That Stole Christmas") because it so frequently disrupts yuletide celebrations.

Organizations: Public Health Agency of Canada, British Columbia Centre

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, TORONTO, Ontario Quebec

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