The weekly flu report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said of 12,360 specimens tested, 29.4 percent were positive for influenza, down from the week before. However, nine influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported -- up from two the week before -- for a total seasonal total of 29 influenza-related pediatric deaths.
Deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza were at 8.3 percent of all deaths reported through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System -- above the epidemic threshold or 7.2 percent -- and higher than last week's rate of 7.3 percent, the report said.
A cumulative rate for the season of 18.8 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported, with 50 percent involving those age 65 and older.
Thirty states and New York City experienced high influenza-like illness activity: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming. This was an increase from 24 states the previous week.
Activity levels are based on the percentage of outpatient visits in a state due to influenza-like illness and are compared to the average percent of influenza-like illness visits that occur during spring and fall weeks when there is little or no influenza virus in circulation.
Influenza-like illness activity can be local. One city could have high activity but other cities or other parts of the state might have low activity.
Ten states experienced moderate influenza-like illness activity: Arizona, California, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Seven states experienced low influenza-like illness activity: Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, South Carolina, South Dakota and Washington.
Kentucky, Maine and Montana experienced minimal influenza-like illness activity.
Widespread influenza activity -- more than 50 percent of the state reporting flu -- was reported by 48 states. Regional influenza activity was reported by Hawaii and Tennessee.
In a sign the flu season might be close to a peak, the national rate of flu-related doctor visits for influenza-like illness, fell from 6 percent Christmas week to 4.6 percent in this report. This was the second straight week it dropped.