Flu season heats up as 23 states report widespread influenza activity: 5 things to know

Influenza activity increased sharply across the U.S. during the week ending Dec. 16, with 23 states reporting widespread flu activity, according to the CDC's most recent update on the 2017-18 flu season published Friday.

Here are five things to know.

1. The percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness was 3.5 percent for the week ending Dec. 16, marking a 0.8 percent increase from the week prior. This figure sits above the national baseline of 2.2 percent and represents the largest single-week increase in reports of flu-related illness so far in the 2017-18 flu season.

2. The CDC reported one additional pediatric flu death during the week ending Dec. 16, increasing the total number of flu-related pediatric deaths to nine for the current flu season. The agency tallied a total of 110 such deaths for last year's flu season.

3. The percentage of respiratory specimens that tested positive for influenza in clinical laboratories increased the week ending Dec. 16. The most frequently identified virus type in positive specimens continued to be influenza A, with 10,567 total positive tests for the season. Additionally, the CDC reported 2,908 total positive tests for influenza B for the current flu season.

4. The number of deaths related to pneumonia and influenza for the week remained below epidemic thresholds.

5. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin all reported widespread flu activity for the week. Puerto Rico and 23 states reported regional activity; Washington, D.C., and four states reported local flu activity; the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic flu activity. Guam did not give the CDC a report on flu activity for the week ending Dec. 16.

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