Nov. 22 (UPI) -- More states reported high flu activity this week as the season heads into high gear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In its weekly FluView report, released Friday, CDC officials noted that eight jurisdictions across the country reported high influenza activity during the week ending Nov. 16: Puerto Rico and seven states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas.
Previously only Puerto Rico and Louisiana had reported high flu activity.
In addition, 2.5 percent of all healthcare visits across the country were due to flu-related concerns, up from 2.3 percent the previous week.
The CDC reported that the percentage of positive blood tests for influenza A and B virus nationwide increased to 7.3 percent from 5.7 percent previously. That is a new high for the season to date.
Overall, there were nearly 1,800 new confirmed flu cases in the 50 states and Puerto Rico.
So far, nearly 5,000 Americans have been hospitalized due to the flu. The CDC said this figure is "similar to what has been seen at this time during other recent seasons."
In all, 5.2 percent of the deaths reported nationally were due to pneumonia and influenza. Four children have died from the flu so far this season.
"The amount of influenza activity across the country varies with the south and parts of the west seeing elevated activity while other parts of the country are still seeing low activity," the CDC said. "The flu season is just getting started. It's not too late to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications."