01/06/2015 11:14 EST | Updated 03/08/2015 05:59 EDT

H3N2 pushes Quebec flu numbers 10 times higher than last year

Quebec has fallen victim to the flu, with 10 times the number of cases compared to the same time last year, according to numbers released by Quebec Public Health in the last week of December.

The flu season hit hard and early across Canada and the United States with a vaccine-resistant, mutated version of the H3N2 virus.

By the end of 2014, Quebec's public health agency recorded 1,800 cases of influenza A, compared to 180 at that time last flu season.

That's an early peak for the province.

In the past few years, the highest numbers of flu cases were usually recorded in January or February.

But according to a newsletter from Quebec's Health Ministry, the number of cases skyrocketed between the last week of November and the first two weeks of December. In the week of Nov. 23, eight per cent of testing done in the province turned up positive results for the flu; by Dec. 13, 27 per cent of tests were positive.

The rate of infection is highest in the eastern part of Quebec, where the flu was detected in nearly half the samples tested.

Most of the cases so far have been influenza A, although influenza B and respiratory problems have also been tracked.

The Quebec Health Ministry has a handy guide to help people decide whether they have the flu or a cold.