ATLANTA, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Almost 21 percent of more than 5,500 specimens tested positive for influenza last week and eight states reported widespread flu, U.S. health officials said.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said for the week ending Dec. 1, widespread influenza activity was reported by Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
Regional influenza activity was reported by 15 states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Local influenza activity was reported by 15 states: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Sporadic influenza activity was reported by the District of Columbia, Guam and California, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont and West Virginia.
The CDC classified four states as having high levels of influenza-like illness: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was below the epidemic threshold, but three influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
Most of the influenza viruses characterized thus far this season are well matched to the 2012-2013 vaccine, the CDC said.
Healthcare providers should continue to offer flu vaccine to all unvaccinated persons age 6 months and older throughout the influenza season, the CDC said.