The flu showed up early this year in Thunder Bay — and there are more outbreaks of respiratory infection in long-term care homes.

The manager of infectious disease programs for the district health unit said the flu season is a lot different from last year.

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A number of children have also been infected with the flu this season. (Stock)

"We only had one reported case last year, between sort of September and December, and it was travel-related," Darlene Binette said. "This year we started right off toward the end of October and we've had 10 since then and, again, that's only the confirmed cases."

Binette said there have also been several flu outbreaks in nursing and retirement homes this year, whereas last year at this time there were none.

On Friday the health unit declared an outbreak of Influenza A at Roseview Manor on Shuniah Street.

It also declared a respiratory outbreak Friday at Hilldale Gardens Retirement Living on Hilldale Road.

A number of children have also been infected this season.

'You feel rotten'

Aside from the elderly, most of the people who have fallen ill did not get a flu shot, Binette added.

"We don't normally get reported cases of influenza in the early fall," she said

"The normal flu months are January to March — what we are seeing for this time of year is quite high."

The Ministry of Health and Long Term care reports there are high levels of flu activity across Ontario.

Binette added it usually takes about a week to 10 days to get over the flu.

"When influenza hits you feel rotten ... you feel like a truck has run over you," she said.

"It's really important to get the flu shot.  Our (health unit) clinics are closed until after Christmas but you could go to your health care provider or pharmacy to get immunized.  It takes from 10 days to two weeks to become effective."

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health states the flu shot "remains the most effective and safe way to protect you and your family from seasonal flu."