Health officials say influenza has hit Alberta hard, with an unusual number of people falling ill to the virus this flu season.

"It's been kind of hanging around our communities, growling along for a number of weeks," said Dr. Marcia Johnson,  Medical Officer of Health with Alberta Health Services.

"But it has started to increase its activity. So more people have been becoming symptomatic or ill."

Johnson says there have been 789 flu cases in Alberta since August, with nearly half of those patients falling sick in the Edmonton area.

Those numbers are similar to what the province saw through the entire flu season last year. However, Johnson says she’s expecting more cases before this year’s virus runs its course.

"We do not know when it will peak, but we expect it to be in our communities for at least another 4-6 weeks if it's the usual pattern."

In the last two weeks of December alone, 327 new cases of influenza were confirmed in Alberta.