The severity of the current cold and flu season is taking a significant toll on blood supplies in northeast Minnesota.
Memorial Blood Center in Duluth has told Northland's News Center that donations have been down because of the recent flu outbreak, with supplies of several blood types said to be "dangerously low."
The center says it is short of O negative, A negative, B negative and B positive blood types, and held a blood drive today at the Paulucci Building in Canal Park in a bid to drum up new supplies.
Concerns were expressed about blood supplies in northern Minnesota prior to Christmas, when the number of reported flu cases spiked, with the Grand Forks Herald reporting supply problems at the Dak-Minn Blood Bank in Grand Forks.
The bank told the newspaper it usually looks to get 500 pints of donated blood every month, but were reporting a shortfall of all blood types last month.
Donations can only be accepted if the donor has been cold and flu free for three days, but Minnesota is currently in the midst of a major flu outbreak that officials have said could be the most severe in recent memory.
There have been almost 1,000 flu-related hospitalizations across the state since the beginning of November, with the most common strain of flu this season, the H3N2 strain, more resistant to anti-viral drugs and posing greater risk to the young and elderly.
January is typically when blood donations dwindle, according to the ECM Post Review, not just because of flu but also because of the weather preventing people from making donations.