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Flurona: How to tell if you have the COVID-flu combo

(NEXSTAR) — While “flurona” may not sound like a real thing, it very much is, health officials nationally and internationally said this week. As the name implies, flurona is when a person has both influenza and COVID-19.

Israel confirmed its first case of flurona in December, according to The Times of Israel. The dual infection was identified in an unvaccinated pregnant woman whose symptoms Beilinson Hospital doctors described as mild.

“She was diagnosed with the flu and coronavirus as soon as she arrived. Both tests came back positive, even after we checked again,” Prof. Arnon Vizhnitser, director of the hospital’s gynecology department, explained. “The disease is the same disease; they’re viral and cause difficulty breathing since both attack the upper respiratory tract.”

The World Health Organization told Nexstar’s WJW on Monday that the frequency of influenza co-infection among COVID-19 positive patients is 0.4% in America. According to WHO, co-infections are not unusual when there is an intense transmission of pathogens in communities, such as COVID-19 and flu.

The co-infection rate is much higher in Asia, WHO reports, with 4.5% of COVID-positive patients getting sick with influenza at the same time. Still, cases are appearing in the U.S. — California, Ohio, and South Carolina are among states that have confirmed cases.

While the name flurona is entering our vocabulary this week, it isn’t brand new. A man in New York tested positive for the flu and COVID-19 at the same time in late February 2020, The Atlantic reports.

What are the symptoms of flurona?

Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar. Here are common symptoms of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

And here are the common symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The viruses have nearly identical symptoms, making flurona difficult to diagnose based on the above signs alone.

How do I know if I have flurona?

Because the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms between them, and to other viruses, testing is needed to diagnose both.

According to the CDC, there are a number of tests available to detect the flu. Among them is swab testing of your throat or nose, vastly similar to current COVID-19 testing.

“They did two swabs. They tested the left nostril for flu and they tested the right nostril for COVID,” Alisha Johnson explained to Nexstar’s WSPA after learning she had flurona.

While COVID-19 testing is widely accessible, you may need to speak with your doctor to be tested for influenza.

Doctors recommend getting vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19 to prevent severe illness.


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