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Posts tagged ‘Flu’

Flu, weather drain blood donation supplies

Blood donations

Agencies are encouraging healthy individuals to give blood.(Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)


While there are no shortages yet, agencies are experiencing low levels in several types of blood and are encouraging people to give blood if they’re healthy.

As flu and frigid weather force many people across the nation to stay bundled up inside, blood banks are reporting donors are canceling appointments and supplies are dropping.

“The American Red Cross is seeing a lower-than-expected turnout,” says Stephanie Millian, director of biomedical communications at the American Red Cross. “We’ve even had seven blood drives canceled because of the weather in the Great Lakes area. Flu season is hitting us in other parts of the country. ”

While none of the agencies responsible for collecting blood is reporting a shortage, they are experiencing low levels in several types of blood and are encouraging people to give blood if they’re healthy.

About 1 in 7 people entering a hospital will require blood transfusions, according to America’s Blood Centers. Blood is used to treat accident victims, cancer patients, hemophiliacs and surgery patients.

The greatest need is for O-negative blood, a type often called for in emergencies because it’s a type any patient can use, says Millian. Only 7% of people are O-negative.

“We like to keep a five- to seven-day supply of all blood types on hand, and we’re under a three-day supply now,” says Jim Fox, director of communications at the New York Blood Center. Bone-chilling temperatures in New York fell into the teens this week, with wind chills below zero.

“When it’s as cold outside as it’s been here, most people like to stay indoors,” Fox says. “But people with leukemia and other cancers don’t have that option. They need blood transfusions. When we get weather like we’ve been having, we start to worry about supplies.”

Mother Nature might help out soon. A warming trend is expected next week across parts of the nation. The flu is reported in all 50 states but is leveling off in many, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. However some parts of the country, especially the Southwest and Northwest, are showing increases.

In Arizona, parts of Texas and in the Northwest, where United Blood Services serves hospitals, it is seeing a drop in donations and a rise in demand.

“We’re struggling to fill blood orders for 145 hospitals in the Arizona area,” says Sue Thew, spokeswoman for United Blood Services in Arizona.

Demand is above normal, Thew said, because hospitals delay many elective surgeries until after the holiday season.

“Hopefully, we can get everyone feeling better soon and back to giving blood,” says Ashley Messick, communications specialist for United Blood Services. “It’s not only people with the flu who are staying away but also their caregivers. We need to restock levels. We’re meeting needs now by shifting blood around to areas where it’s needed.”


Gear up for flu season, public told

PETALING JAYA: The sniffles are fast becoming a common sound in schools and offices in the Klang Valley.

In fact, we are well under way for the flu season, which hits Malaysia usually in mid-year.

However, the cases so far have registered only a minor blip in the Health Department’s radar.

Department director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said government clinics only saw a 0.57% increase while hospitals in the Klang Valley saw an increase of 6%.

“The figures are well below our alert threshold of 10%.

“Therefore, our surveillance doesn’t show an outbreak of influenza-like illness (ILI) or influenza,” he told The Star.

He also said the virus currently circulating was the less virulent Influenza B virus, but noted that there was no circulation of the virus that causes common cold.

However, Dr Hasan advised those down with the flu to be responsible and stay at home.

If an individual has symptoms and signs of influenza (such as fever, cough, difficulty in breathing), he or she is advised to seek early treatment at the nearest health facility.

Meantime, he also urged Malaysians to maintain a high level of personal hygiene and wash their hands with soap and water regularly.

Continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle such as having a balanced diet, drinking enough fluids, exercising regularly and having adequate rest, he said.

The Star

5 simple ways to protect against the flu

Imagine this: You are trying to rush out a report, but your co-worker next to you has the sniffles.

Each time you get down to work, your concentration is rudely interrupted by his sneezes.

Worst still, your neighbour, who seems to have the flu bug, is not wearing a face mask.

Unfortunately, you are stuck next to him for the rest of the day and the day after next… until he decides to take medical leave and go to the doctor.

Flu is passed through inhalation of air droplets which are released when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. Or by touching contaminated surfaces such as tables, arm rests or door handles in an office.

A carrier of Influenza may display symptoms of cough, sore throat, high fever, body aches or a stuffy nose.

A typical office is a perfect conduit for the virus to spread because of its confined space and poor air circulation.

While no one likes falling sick, there are some necessary precautions you can take to ensure you don’t end up infecting those you care for, or even strangers. Here are some tips for germ- free social responsibility:

1. Keep your hands clean

Your hands may frequently come in contact with contaminated surfaces which have been exposed to germs. It is important to wash them regularly and thoroughly with soap to maintain good hand hygiene.

If washing facilities are not readily available where you are, use a hand sanitiser to maintain hand hygiene.

2. Get vaccinated

The flu vaccination is strongly recommended for:

• The elderly and their caregivers

• Very young children, aged 6 months to 5 years

• People with low immunity (e.g. on cancer treatment) or chronic diseases such as diabetes

Pregnant women, healthcare workers and travellers will also benefit from the flu vaccine.

Unless advised otherwise, it is also recommended to go for flu vaccination to protect yourself from the various flu viruses.

The flu vaccination is easily available at all polyclinics and most private clinics. Ask your doctor for more information.

3. Go to your doctor early

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, seek treatment from a doctor early, and wear a mask until you have recovered.

4. Stay at home

If you are unwell, opt to rest at home instead of going to the office or crowded places to prevent the spread of the virus to others.

If you are already at the office, then take medical leave and excuse yourself for the rest of the day. Reschedule your work plans or meetings to avoid spreading the virus to others.

5. Use a tissue or wear a mask

Bring along a mask when you go out and wear it in public until you have recovered. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

This prevents the release of respiratory droplets into the air. Dispose of the used tissues into a covered dustbin and wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer after doing so.

With good social hygiene habits, we can keep ourselves and those we care for safe from flu. We can do our bit to stop the spread.


Flu scare on plane coming from Japan


An airplane of Air New Zealand coming from Tokyo was held for several hours on ground after landing at Auckland airport, due to a flu scare which later proved to be less serious than it first seemed.


About 70 Japanese students present onboard displayed flu symptoms, according to a message sent by the airline to the airport’s health officials.


Men in white overalls and wearing masks entered the plane to examine passengers, while local hospitals have been warned to prepare for mass patient admissions.


All passengers were later cleared as healthy and could leave the plane.

A number of passengers were unhappy with the poor communication and the apparent chaotic way in which the situation was handled. A spokesperson from the airport said that it appeared there had been “an overreaction”, but that it was better than under-reacting.


New Zealand’s health minister Tony Ryall said that he had been told that in Japan it was flu season. There was however no reason to believe that the students’ problem was anything more than normal flu, he added.


Read More: The Tokyo Times

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