KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) — While “flurona” is not a medical term, it’s a popularized term that describes people who have contracted both influenza and COVID-19 at the same time. Although it’s not a common occurrence, doctors say it can happen.
When diagnosed with both the flu and COVID-19, doctors with Kettering Health said there’s a greater risk.
“The concern there is, as you would think, that they might be additive to each other – that you would get sicker if you have both influenza and COVID-19 at the same time, that you would get sicker than someone who just had one or the other. And both of those viruses have potential to kill someone, especially older people and people with chronic medical illnesses, morbid obesity, or immunologic compromised,” said Jeffrey Weinstein, M.D., Kettering Health Patient Safety Officer.
Dr. Weinstein said when COVID-19 first hit in the spring of 2020, flu season was in full swing, and there were patients with both illnesses; but last winter, there were very few flu cases.
“There was very little influenza in the United States. It was the first time we really had no influenza epidemic to speak of ever. And the thought there was that because everyone was wearing masks and social distancing,” said Dr. Weinstein.
Doctors say symptoms for the flu and COVID-19 are very similar, which can complicate things and make it hard for a person to decipher which illness they have. They say that’s why testing is important.
“We have rapid COVID tests. We have rapid influenza tests. And then we also have more sophisticated tests where you can do one nasal swab and be able to detect not only SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A and B, but a variety of other viral respiratory pathogens,” said Dr. Weinstein.
Because COVID-19 is much more prevalent, doctors recommend testing for that first.
While it can be hard to tell the flu and COVID apart without testing, doctors say prevention is the same for both. Doctors recommend the vaccine for both the flu and COVID-19, masking, and social distancing.
Dr. Weinstein estimates Kettering Health has admitted roughly 20 people for the flu this season. He says right now it’s too hard to predict what kind of flu season we’re going to have, but says we should have a better idea in the next few weeks.