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Health officials warn of a shorter but more intense flu season

WATCH: It's peak flu season in Montreal with two strains of the influenza virus having been detected. As Global's Felicia Parrillo reports, the key to fighting the illness is prevention.

Clinics are full and doctors are busy, which means flu season is upon us.

“Things since after the Christmas, new year’s break, since about last week, are starting to pick up,” said Dr. Harley Eisman, ER director at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. “Our hospital emergency department is busy, clinics are busy, and it’s really because of the flu.”

Public Health says the flu season in Montreal started peaking in December.

READ MORE: Flu season leads to overcrowding in Quebec ERs

Usually, health officials start seeing cases of Influenza A, then Influenza B — but this season, they’ve gotten reports of both at the same time.

That means this year’s flu season may be shorter — but experts say, it’ll be more intense.

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“This year, we hear, is a little bit strong than the previous years,” said Dr. Eisman. “There are two strains that are working together, both at the same time. Usually, one strain starts, stops, then another strain comes on. But we’re seeing two strains very active at the same time.”

READ MORE: This year’s flu vaccine might only be 10% effective against predominant strain

At the Jewish General Hospital, they say prevention is the key to avoiding the illness.

“It’s a very basic measure, but hand hygiene, is still one of the best ways to prevent the flu,” said Silvana Perna, Infection Prevention and Control Specialist. “Also, what we call cough etiquette, which means that if you’re going to cough or squeeze, that you sneeze in your elbow.”

According to Dr. Mitch Shulman, the best way to steer clear of the virus is to get vaccinated.

“The honest answer is you get vaccinated not only to keep yourself from getting sick but also to reduce the risk that you’ll have complications and god forbid die,” he said.

READ MORE: Flu season: Signs you’re too sick and should stay home

Experts say they expect the flu season to last until about March, so it’s not too late to get the vaccine.

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If you do happen to get the virus, doctors say the best thing to do is to take it seriously and get some rest.

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