ATLANTA, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Influenza activity was on the rise in the United States, with 30 percent of 6,234 recent specimens testing positive for the flu, federal health officials say.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was below the epidemic threshold, but eight influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported for the week ending Dec. 22.
New York City and 16 states experienced high influenza-like illness activity, while eight states experienced moderate activity; 10 had low activity, 14 reported minimal activity, and the District of Columbia and two states had insufficient data.
Widespread influenza activity was reported by 31 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Regional influenza activity was reported by 14 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Washington.
Local influenza activity was reported by the District of Columbia and Delaware, Oregon and Vermont. Sporadic influenza activity was reported in California and Hawaii.
Testing of the circulating flu strains reported H3N2 was the dominant strain in the United States, followed by influenza B. Health officials said they expected a bad flu season, because the dominant flu strain H3N2, tended to cause more illnesses that were more severe than other influenza strains.