HOUSTON, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Signs are growing that the United States is entering the first stage of a second wave of the A/H1N1 flu epidemic just as the country officially began the flu season on Oct. 4.
Some 37 U.S. states reported geographically widespread influenza activity; Guam and another 11 states reported regional influenza activity; two states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico Territory, reported local influenza activity, according to the latest statistics released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday.
The CDC warned last week the second wave of the A/H1N1 epidemic was imminent.
The most noticeable figure released on Friday is an increase in the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) based on the 122 Cities Report.
"During week 39 (last week), 6.5 percent of all deaths reported through the 122-Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to P&I," the CDC said, adding that "this percentage was at the epidemic threshold of 6.5 percent for week 39."
The CDC confirmed 405 more deaths in the past week, bringing the death toll to 1,784 since the beginning of September.
From Aug. 30 to Oct. 3, some 3,874 laboratory-confirmed influenza associated hospitalizations, 240 laboratory-confirmed influenzas associated deaths, 12,384 P&I syndrome-based hospitalizations, and 1,544 P&I syndrome-based deaths were reported, the CDC's latest statistics said.
Meanwhile, visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) continued to increase in the United States. Nationwide, 5.1 percent of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to ILI, against 4.2 percent in the previous week.
"This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.4 percent," the CDC experts said.
Both the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System reported that 99percent of all subtypes of influenza A viruses being reported to CDC in recent weeks were 2009 influenza A/H1N1 viruses.
All these figures indicate the country as a whole is entering the first stage of the second wave of the epidemic of A/H1N1 virus and the CDC and state officials and experts will accelerate the pace of vaccination around the country.
A nationwide campaign to inoculate at least half of the U.S. population or perhaps the entire country against the A/H1N1 virus started earlier this week in some states.
The federal government has spent two billion U.S. dollars to purchase about 250 million doses of vaccine and has pledged to buy enough to immunize every American.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius appealed for widespread inoculation against the A/H1N1 flu on Wednesday.
Special A/H1N1 flu vaccination clinics at schools are being planned in many states. Experts believe that children are the main spreaders of infectious disease, and if large numbers are coming down with the new flu, there are ripple effects for everyone else.
Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC, said the A/H1N1 vaccine was more effective than some seasonal shots because the new virus had not mutated and matched the vaccine.
Data show some 36,000 people die of influenza around the country each year.
Special Report: World Tackles A/H1N1 Flu ¡¡