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What Is ‘Flurona?’ And What Do We Need to Know About It?

January 07, 2022

Wellness During COVID-19
young woman sitting alone on her sofa at home and coughing

As cases of the highly contagious omicron variant have surged across the world, a new COVID term has come to our attention in early 2022: flurona.

The word “flurona” itself does not indicate a distinct disease or COVID-19 variant. It is a newly coined word that describes a co-infection where one person is infected simultaneously with COVID-19 and influenza A or B(the “ flu”). 

Is This Condition New? 

In early January, Israel health officials reported that two young pregnant women had tested positive for both the coronavirus and the flu. Local and global media outlets erroneously stated that this was the first dual case in the world, and they dubbed the condition “flurona.”

However, although the name flurona is new, the phenomenon of co-infection with COVID-19 and influenza is not. Some cases of co-infection appeared long before the term flurona was coined. 

For example, The Atlantic reported about an incident in 2020 in which a man entered a hospital in New York City with a severe cough and fever. At that time, the city had not yet reported any cases of the coronavirus. The man tested positive for influenza, but he was not tested for the coronavirus. When COVID testing began, he was re-tested, and it was discovered that he was also infected with COVID-19.

Where Are Cases Being Reported?

As of early January, co-infections have been reported in Florida and California, and in Israel, Mexico, the Philippines, Hungary, and Brazil. Although reporting is still not extensive at this time. 

Health officials said it was likely individuals have been infected with both viruses but have not yet been diagnosed.

Why Is Flurona Such a Concern This Winter? 

Flurona is emerging as a potentially severe illness, particularly among the unvaccinated, the elderly, and people with preexisting medical conditions. The highly contagious omicron variant is creating a surge this winter at the same time of the year that the seasonal flu is prevalent.

When reporting on the news about the co-infections in Israel, Nadav Davidovitch, director of the School of Public Health at Ben-Gurion University in Israel said: "This is definitely a challenging time because there is now both very high influenza activity and very high COVID activity.”

Medical professionals agree that being vaccinated for both the flu and COVID minimizes the risk of serious illness, but they warn that for unvaccinated individuals, flurona can have a serious impact on a person’s immune system.

There is currently not a system in place to track if the need for hospitalization is higher for those co-infected with both the flu and COVID-19, as compared with the rates of hospitalization for people with just one of the viruses.

What Are the Symptoms of Flurona? 

Flurona can cause symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache and fatigue, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Since the flu and COVID are viral, both attack the upper respiratory tract and can cause difficulty breathing. The symptoms are essentially indistinguishable.

The severity of each diagnosis depends on an individual’s immune system. Health workers, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are more at risk for both viruses.

Of course, it is advisable to contact your doctor if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

How is Flurona Transmitted? 

The flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory diseases that are spread through droplets and aerosols when an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs, sings or sneezes. Flurona, being a combination of the two respiratory viruses (Covid is more transmissible), is spread in the same way.

Information from the Country of Los Angeles reports that both the flu and COVID-19 can spread from close contact (6 feet) with someone who is infected. Covering your mouth and nose (wearing face coverings), washing hands regularly, and keeping your distance from others (at least 6 feet) is the best way to prevent the spread.

The World Health Organization also recommends isolating and opening windows and doors to ensure ventilation, since people who are closed inside have a higher risk of being infected in upper respiratory infections in general. 

Both the flu and COVID-19 can spread before the symptoms appear. If you have been in contact with someone who might have the flu or COVID-19, it is important to know that flu symptoms take about 4 days to appear and COVID-19 symptoms take between 2 to 14 days to appear.

What Is the Best Prevention? Get Vaccinated Against Both Viruses! 

The flu and COVID-19 vaccines are still doing their job in minimizing serious illness, particularly for people who have gotten their booster shot.

Health officials advise people to get vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19. (Be sure to also get a booster shot for COVID). Both vaccines are highly effective and can be administered at the same time.

If you have been diagnosed with a positive for COVID-19 and/or the flu, it is most important to quarantine and isolate to avoid spreading the virus to others

 

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