U.K. norovirus outbreak contributes to low blood supply

The U.K. National Health Service recently issued an appeal for O Negative blood after an outbreak of norovirus sparked a decrease in donations.

The U.K. National Blood Service said that it had plenty of O Negative before the Christmas period, but high demand has led to the current shortage. An NBS spokesman added that supplies often falter around the holiday's as people become distracted and do not always attend regular sessions, according to the Independent.

In addition to the annual dip in supply, the norovirus outbreak is believed to have affected more than 100 million people with symptoms of diarrhea and nausea, causing several hospitals to close in order to prevent its further spread.

"The recent outbreak of norovirus has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people correctly canceling their appointments," the NBS said, the Independent reports."Non-attendance by O Negative donors increased by 50 percent just before New Year."

O Negative donors account for approximately seven percent of the British blood supply. They are known as universal donors because their blood can be safely transfused into patients with different blood groups. O Negative blood is often critical for use in emergency medical situations when there is no time to carry out immediate blood group testing.