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Flu outbreak takes a toll on blood donations

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Two more deaths from the flu have been reported in Clark County, bringing the total to 18.

The latest victims were over the age of 65.

But the Centers For Disease Control says it appears the flu is starting to slow in Western states.

We still have a lot of flu season left.

In fact, it can run through April, but there is still time to get a flu shot.

Meanwhile, the outbreak is taking a toll in ways you might not expect.

RELATED | CDC: 16 more children have died from the flu, peak still to come

"This is the easiest thing really. You get to watch a movie, you get treats, what can be better than that," says Bill Mead.

Mead has donated blood at least 100 times.

"I like to give back," Mead tells us. He's confident that he's helped save lives, but today this is one of the only occupied chairs at United Blood Services.

A high number of regulars like Mead's simply aren't eligible right now.

Jeannie McCoy from United Blood Services says, "we've been impacted because of cold and flu season. People who are normally in the cycle to donate have not been able to."

Donor recruitment manager McCoy says UBS is now asking any and all healthy Southern Nevadans to give.

During this extreme flu season that's a tall order. Statewide hospitalizations for the flu are now three times what they were last year.

Dr. Robert Pretzlaff from St. Rose Dominican hospital says, "the flu is just right now peaking."

He also says the best prevention of the flu is to get immunized, wash your hands often, and stay away from sick people.

While some parts of the country have experienced a shortage in the prescription Tamiflu, that hasn't been the case in our area.

"We haven't seen any shortage. There are a couple of anti-viral that work against influenza. They're effective but unless you use them within the first 48-72 hours of symptoms, they don't have an effect and they don't get rid of flu, they decrease your symptoms," says Dr. Pretzlaff.

"We like to have a 5 day supply of blood on our shelves at any given time," says McCoy.

Mead is just thankful he's avoided the flu bug and his donation is perfectly safe.

When it comes to avoiding sick people, I know we have these masks in the newsroom right now. Maybe you're doing the same where you work. But doctors say please if you're sick, stay home.

For more information on Bloodhero, click here.

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