British Columbians are coming down with influenza earlier than in previous flu seasons, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

"This year we are seeing an earlier increase than we normally expect,” said epidemiologist Dr. Danuta Skowronski.

“But we can't say that that necessarily spells into a worse season overall. We're only about halfway through the influenza season, which can span anytime between November and the end of April."

She says a stronger strain of influenza started showing up during the Christmas holidays, likely spread by all the hugs and handshakes at holiday gatherings.

"We were picking up activity already in October. Towards the end of November it started to ramp up and going into the holiday period it started to show clear signs of spiking.

"We're seeing circulating an H3N2 sub-type virus, and those tend to be somewhat more severe, typically, than other kinds of influenza viruses," she said.

Fortunately that H3N2 strain is in the flu vaccination this year, making the immunization more effective, and it is not too late to protect yourself.

"If you haven't been immunized yet, now's the time to do it."

She notes influenza, which normally causes fever and coughing, is not the same as the norovirus, which has hit several hospitals and can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

And for those who do get the flu, Skowronski says the best advice is common sense.

"Fever and cough? Take the week off!"

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Christie Harris

    This Oklahoma woman was sentenced to 25 years after smuggling not only meth in her butt, but also a gun in her vagina. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/christie-harris-hid-gun-in-vagina-meth-in-butt-sentenced_n_3574436.html" target="_blank">Read the whole story here. </a>

  • Alexis Clancy

    This Florida woman was allegedly caught with a hypodermic needle stowed away in her anus. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/01/alexis-clancey-hides-needle-in-butt_n_2789700.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news&ir=Weird%20News">Read the whole story here. </a>

  • Cocaine Diapers

    Priscilla Pena and Michelle Blassingale were arrested at JFK Airport after arriving from the Dominican Republic in late January. Drug-sniffing dogs allegedly detected something. Authorities said Pena had seven kilos of cocaine in silver plastic, wrapped around her butt like a disposable diaper.

  • Rasoul Speight

    Rasoul Speight, 32, is facing a narcotics charge after New Jersey cops yesterday discovered a whopping 100 bags of heroin hidden in his anus.

  • Ashley Bellamy

    Bellamy allegedly hid 36 vials of crack cocaine in her vagina to stay out of police custody. But officers noticed that the Philadelphia woman was walking funny, and she admitted to her hiding place. "The woman says, 'I have crack up in my vagina,' and she pushed out 36 vials of crack cocaine that were in a bag," Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said. "Thank God the lady didn't have a snake or a crocodile, or we'd really have been in trouble."

  • Pot Found In Frozen Carrots

    42 packages of marijuana were found stashed inside boxes of carrots on the back of a truck trying to pass through the Otay Mesa cargo facility.

  • Crack, Pot Found In Man's Prosthetic Leg

    Jose Santiago is accused of hiding 2.5 grams of crack cocaine and 2.8 grams of marijuana inside his prosthetic leg.

  • Kiana Howell and Makeeba Grahama

    Kiana Howell (L) and Makeeba Graham (R) are accused of attempting to smuggle cocaine from Guyana into the U.S. in their hair.

  • Byron Harvey

    Harvey is accused of stuffing clothes shoes and a watch worth a combined $450 <a href="http://blogs.tcpalm.com/off_the_beat_will_greenlee_blog/2012/09/byron-harvey-apparently-had-a.html" target="_hplink">in his pants.</a> He also allegedly had several pills stuffed in his pants that he claimed were not his.

  • Cocaine Bricks In XBox

    Carlos Valenzuela, 42, was pulled over by El Paso authorities for a traffic violation, but the routine stop led to the discovery of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/cocaine-in-xbox-carlos-valenzuela_n_1495223.html#s=946270" target="_hplink">two large bricks of cocaine inside an XBox 360.</a>

  • Man Allegedly Ties 89 Bags Of Drugs To Penis

    A traffic violation by Ray Woods, 23, caught the attention of Pennsylvania police, who then discovered Woods was packing something quite large: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/89-bags-of-heroin-tied-to-penis_n_1420733.html" target="_hplink">89 bags of heroin and cocaine tied to his penis.</a>

  • Cocaine Found In Tampon Box

    Cindy Davidson of Salt Lake City found quite a surprise when she opened a box of tampons she purchased: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/cocaine-tampons-accidenta_n_1477321.html" target="_hplink">cocaine wrapped in cellophane.</a>

  • Crack Found In Suspect's Butt

    Florida police not afraid to get their hands dirty <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/17/police-find-crack-in-butt_n_1285604.html" target="_hplink">discovered crack in the butt</a> of 28-year-old Ramon Blair.

  • Idaho Mechanic Finds $40,000 Of Cocaine In 82-Year-Old Woman's Car

    An Idaho mechanic <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/idaho-mechanic-discovers-cocaine_n_1506071.html?ref=drugs" target="_hplink">found 1.16 pounds of cocaine</a> -- that's more than $40,000 worth on the street -- inside the engine compartment of a car belonging to an 82-year-old woman.