BRUSSELS, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- For the first week of the year, 14 countries in Europe reported low-intensity flu transmission, 11 medium intensity and Norway high intensity, officials say.
A report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Slovakia and Sweden all reported medium intensity for the first time this flu season. France and Italy reported medium intensity for three consecutive weeks.
In contrast, only four countries out of 20 reported medium-intensity transmission by the last week of last year.
For the week of the year, the geographic pattern of influenza activity was reported as widespread by 10 countries, regional by three countries -- the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy -- local by Austria and sporadic by nine countries.
Only Bulgaria, Portugal and Romania reported no activity, compared to five countries the week before.
For the first week of the year, only Romania reported a decreasing trend in flu activity.
Of 734 sentinel specimens from influenza-like illness tested across 20 countries, 44 percent were positive for influenza virus -- a high percentage but similar to the week before. About one third of the flu samples were 2009 H1N1, a good deal less than in the United States.
Four countries reported a total of 167 hospitalized, laboratory-confirmed influenza cases.
Of the influenza virus detections in sentinel specimens 44 percent were type A, and 56 percent were type B viruses. The virological match with the strains in the current seasonal influenza vaccine was considered good, the report said.