The region's blood bank is calling for healthy people to give blood in the next two weeks, saying that the unusually severe flu season has led to a nearly 25 percent drop in the number people donating at its 11 centers in Western Washington.
People who are sick can't donate blood. They have to wait until they're healthy again, according to a news release from Puget Sound Blood Center.
"With so much flu around many regular donors are unable to come in, and the available supply for all blood types has now reached critical levels," said David Leitch, the center's director of donor and volunteer resources.
He said there also is a strong need for O-negative blood donors - the universal donor whose blood can be transfused to patients with any other blood type - and donors of O-positive, which is the most common blood type.
Go online to psbc.org to find locations and times to give blood, including in Bellingham.
Meanwhile, flu continued to be elevated and widespread in Washington state, according to the weekly state flu report ending Friday, Jan. 19.
Most of the flu in the state, including in Whatcom County, is A (H3N2). That strain is the main culprit for the illness that swept through the Southeast and East Coast - where it started before spreading to the rest of the country, causing a spike in flu-related deaths and hospital visits.
The Jan. 19 report compiled by the state Department of Health also noted that flu activity appeared to have reached peak levels in the western part of the state but continued to increase on the eastern side.
Flu activity in Whatcom County increased a little, according to the county's weekly flu report for Jan. 13-19.
Tests through PeaceHealth Laboratory confirmed 18 cases of influenza A and two cases of influenza B in Whatcom County - compared to 16 of type A and 3 of Type B the previous week.
An outpatient clinic reported two influenza A cases, according to the report.
There were five hospitalizations in Whatcom County because of the flu, up one from the previous week.
Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.