The nickname “flurona” does not mean that we have to worry about a new disease. A medical expert explains how co-infections work.
Healthcare workers can now test for flu and COVID-19 at the same time. If you have both at the same time, it’s called a co-infection. But this time, the media clung to a nickname: “flurona”.
It started with a headline from Israel calling a pregnant woman with flu and COVID the first case of “flurona” in the country. Some misunderstood this to mean the first case of a new disease.
It’s not. But social media and media picked up the name and it stuck.
Dr. Jonathan Grein helps fix the problem.
He is an infectious disease physician and director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
A medical diagnosis of co-infection of any kind is not new. And at this point, Dr. Grein says flu and COVID co-infections are nothing to panic about.
“There doesn’t seem to be any major sign that getting infected with both makes you that much sicker, but we just don’t know, and it’s too early to know,” Grein says. “Common sense would dictate getting infected with two things is definitely not good.”
Common symptoms to look for: dry cough, fever, sore throat, headache or body aches and feeling exhausted.
Co-infections are not the norm. Grein says her hospital has only seen a few people with flu and COVID at the same time. Much like co-infections elsewhere in the country, all cases were mild and in younger patients.
Experts say it’s because the younger you are, the less immunity someone has because they haven’t been exposed to as many viruses. Unvaccinated people who are very sociable, do not mask are more likely to contract influenza and COVID co-infection. Older and immunocompromised people are more likely to see both diseases become serious.
“There’s a real concern that we’re seeing more flu circulating with COVID-19,” Grein said. “And I think there’s a real concern that it could really increase the number of people getting seriously ill or having to go to hospital.”
To avoid being one of those people, medical experts say to get vaccinated. You can get the flu and COVID shots at the same time.