The flu has had an affect on blood donations across the nation. The American Red Cross issued a plea last week to healthy, potential donors to consider donating blood and platelets.

Fifteen more flu related deaths in California were reported by state health officials Friday, as outbreaks and hospitalizations continued at elevated levels compared to prior years.

Public health officials continued to press the public to get flu shots, saying it wasn’t too late, and that the vaccine offered perfect protection against three of the four strains. Health officials said one strain, Influenza A H3N2, is why flu season seems more severe this year.

Most people with the flu are able to treat themselves at home with rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and over the counter medications, health officials say, but in some, the disease can lead to complications including pneumonia, seizures, and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart or lung disease.

Los Angeles County health officials this week reported 36 deaths this flu season, compared to 13 people for the same time last year.

RELATED STORY: The H3N2 flu virus is known as the hospitalizer. Here’s why.

“Most people will recover with rest and fluids, and are urged to call their doctor or nurse hotline, rather than visit an emergency department, where wait times may be long at this time,” Los Angeles County public health officials said this week in a statement. “People at greater risk for complications from the flu should seek medical care as soon as they begin to feel ill, whether or not they have been vaccinated.”

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Pneumonia is the most common complication of the flu. Flu can also aggravate underlying health conditions like heart disease or asthma. Annually, thousands of people nationwide are hospitalized or die from influenza- associated illness.

Influenza symptoms include fever or feeling feverish, a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, chills and fatigue. It can be spread through coughing, sneezing or contact with an infected person.

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