Don’t panic about ‘Flurona’. There’s nothing unique about having the Flu and COVID-19 at the same time

There is another colorful addition to the pandemic vocabulary – “flurona” – but it does not refer to a new variant or even a new condition. The term constitutive describes the simultaneous infection of both influenza and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The two diseases don’t combine to create some hybrid form of either virus, which makes “flurona” a scary misnomer. But co-infection is becoming more common. Having COVID-19 and flu simultaneously has been possible since the start of the pandemic, but so far, strict safety precautions have largely prevented such concerns from coming to fruition. “Essentially, everyone is frustrated – we close the window and close the door. We covered our faces. Frank Esper, a physician at the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases for Children at the Cleveland Clinic. “So all viruses strike.” That is no longer the case. “We’re seeing a lot of people having coronavirus as well as a second or even a third germ, and that could lead to more and more cases of so-called flurona,” Esper said.
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Earlier this week, Texas Children’s Hospital speak that a child infected with both the flu and COVID-19 is recovering at home. Los Angeles County report Its first case of flurona was in a teenager who had just returned from a family trip to Mexico. He is said to have no serious symptoms and is recovering at home. Israeli recently reported the first case in an unvaccinated pregnant woman with mild symptoms, and cases have been detected in Brazil and Hungary.

Here’s what to know about flu and COVID-19 co-infection:

Is Flurona new?

Is not. Having multiple viruses at the same time is not a new concept and has become more common over the past few decades, Esper said, so having the flu and the coronavirus at the same time is not surprising. “It’s important for people to know that a lot of these co-infections, we’ve been seeing them for decades,” he said. “This is not a new phenomenon” and does not cause panic.

The coin happened in 2020, when search conducted at Tongji hospital in Wuhan, China, showed that nearly 12% of the 544 patients with COVID-19 also had the flu. Another 2020 study found that of the nearly 2,000 patients hospitalized with coronavirus in New York City, 42—2.1%—co-infected with some other virus and one co-infected with influenza. That same year, researchers in Northern California found that about 21% specimens positive for COVID-19 is also positive for another pathogen, most commonly rhinovirus.

Will flurona be more common this year?

Almost certainly. The highly contagious Omicron variant continues to spread globally, leading to record high cases almost every day. Influenza, which is a respiratory infection, circulates in the fall and winter, usually peaking between December and February. While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says activity The motion of the flu is still low nationwide, it is increasing steadily.

Like SARS-CoV-2, flu is spread through airborne droplets when people cough, sneeze, or talk to each other. Less often, it spreads through contaminated surfaces. For example, if someone with the flu touches a grocery store shelf, and then you touch — then rub your eyes or put your hand in your mouth — you could become infected. Influenza can spread from up to approx 6 feet away.

Dr Abinash Virk, an infectious disease specialist with the Mayo Clinic, said: “The discussion about COVID and the flu didn’t happen last year because there was no real flu epidemic. A vaccine isn’t available yet, so mask-wearing mandates have gone into effect and people are distancing themselves from society and skipping social gatherings. “This year, the flu broke out,” says Virk. “So yes, we’re worried that people will get both infections.”

Also of concern: Fewer people got the flu shot this year than in previous years, Virk said. From end of NovemberFor example, 47.5% of pregnant women were vaccinated, nearly 15 percentage points lower than at the same time last year.

If I have had the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine, can I still get co-infection?

It’s correct. “It’s not like you get vaccinated and you’re protected against bullets,” says Virk. However, the best way to prevent hospitalization and serious illness is to get vaccinated for both viruses. “You can still have a mild infection – but hopefully it’s just a mild infection.”

Yes some proof that this year’s flu shot is not particularly suitable for circulating strains of bacteria. Manufacturers produce shots designed to fight the four strains that circulated during the previous season; that’s been difficult this year, as the pandemic has essentially wiped out the flu in 2020-2021. However, it is important to capture it. “That doesn’t mean you won’t be protected,” Esper said. Most of people 6 months of age or older is eligible and it is especially recommended for pregnant women, the elderly, young children and those with compromised immune systems.

What are the symptoms of flurona?

COVID-19 and the flu cause similar symptoms: fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, and muscle aches. Esper predicts that people with co-infections will not experience unique symptoms.

Virk says patients who are hospitalized with a dual infection will be treated based on their risk of severe illness. That could include Tamiflu, an antiviral drug that can reduce the length of time a person has the flu and reduce the risk of serious complications and death, and COVID-19-specific treatments such as: oxygen, monoclonal antibodies, and IL6 receptor blockers. The exact treatment program will depend on the individual patient’s circumstances and individual risk factors. For example, patients at “high risk for severe lung disease,” such as those with obesity, would be treated more aggressively, Virk said.

It is possible that co-infection may lead to longer illness: In one of the original research In Wuhan, COVID-19 patients who also had the flu transferred SARS-CoV-2 in 17 days, compared with a 12-day average for those with only one illness.

Does having the flu at the same time increase the severity of COVID-19?

“The jury is not over yet, and that’s something we’d love to see,” Esper said. But there’s reason to be optimistic: research has shown that people who contract two or three viruses at the same time don’t get sicker than if they got it just once. “Everybody knows the flu is bad; Everyone knows coronavirus is bad,” he said. “You put the two together, you think you’re even worse. For the most part, in terms of viruses, we don’t see that.”

However, Esper adds, each virus can manifest differently, and so can specific pairs. So if you have both virus A and virus B, you could get sicker; mix a cocktail of C virus and D virus, and you won’t see the same effect. That highlights the need for more data to draw conclusions.

Are children at a higher risk of disease?

In general, young children are six to eight times more likely to contract multiple viruses at once than adults – in part because they are exposed to so many germs in places like daycare. Plus, he points out, flu vaccination rates among children tend to be low. Based on data from CDC, 58.6% of children aged 6 months to 17 years were immunized during the 2020-2021 flu season, a decrease of about 5 percentage points from 2019-2020. And children under 5 still can’t get the coronavirus vaccine, making them especially vulnerable to infection.

How can I protect against flurona?

The good news is that we already know how to stay healthy. “If there’s been one thing that’s been significant over the last 12 months, it’s that the amount of respiratory viruses we’ve seen is so small because everyone is wearing masks, washing hands and looking away,” Esper said. . “So if you’re like, ‘Do I really have to wear a mask?’ It doesn’t just protect you against coronavirus. It also protects against the influenza virus, RSV . [​​respiratory syncytial virus], virushinovirus and all the other viruses out there. “

If you haven’t already, get vaccinated for both COVID-19 (including a booster shot after five months) and the flu. Wear a mask in public, check in often and be wise in gatherings. The word “flurona” may be new, but the manual is not.

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