The flu season has started a month earlier than expected, the NHS has said.
NHS Direct has seen the number of calls about symptoms more than double over the last three months and doctors are being urged to start prescribing ant-viral drugs.
Last year the virus began affecting people from mid-January but schools and hospitals are already reporting outbreaks, with children and the elderly the most vulnerable.
NHS is urging people to check their symptoms online as increasing numbers are expected to be struck down in the coming months.
For most people, the flu is nothing more than a week of feeling under the weather, but for those such as the elderly, and patients with lung problems and diabetes it can be far more dangerous - even life threatening.
The most at-risk groups are encouraged to get the flu jab each year.
The Department of Health along with the Health Protection Agency have written to doctors in England to recommend they prescribe ant-viral drugs to the most vulnerable groups.
With the coldest start to winter for 30 years, what do they expect.
Elnagh Clipper 90.......... Real Names Mike & Hazel