(WXYZ) — The first case of “flurona” has been documented. A woman in Israel was diagnosed with this double infection, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.
“Flurona” is a term that describes a person who’s infected with two respiratory infections at the same time – and that’s the flu and the coronavirus. Both cause similar symptoms like a sore throat, fever, headache, fatigue, coughing, and a runny nose.
Now, here’s what I can tell you about the patient diagnosed with flurona. She’s an unvaccinated Israeli pregnant mother in her 30s. She was treated with a drug combination and released in good condition. Officials say her illness was generally mild. But precautions were taken because pregnant women can get quite sick and even die from either influenza or the coronavirus. So doctors – myself included - are concerned that having both of these respiratory illnesses simultaneously could possibly lead to even more severe illness. And not just for pregnant women. While we don’t have a lot of data on this particular co-infection, it could be quite hard on a person’s immune system, especially those who are elderly or immunocompromised.
It wouldn’t surprise me if we see more cases of this co-infection. Remember last year, influenza cases were very, very low. But this flu season, case numbers are rising and of course, the Omicron is spreading like wildfire. Already I’m hearing reports of newly diagnosed cases of flurona here in the US. Not many details have been confirmed, but a child in Texas and a child in Los Angeles have been reported to have this co-infection. Now I can’t predict how common flurona will be and if we’ll see a lot of cases. But it’s wintertime. So more people are hanging out inside. And both the flu and the coronavirus easily spread when people gather and mix together indoors.
In my opinion, what people need to focus on is getting vaccinated for both COVID and for the flu. The vaccines might not stop a person from getting infected, but they can help protect against severe illness that leads to hospitalization. And generally speaking, if you’re someone who is overall healthy with no underlying health issues, and you’re vaccinated for both these illnesses – including being boosted for COVID – you are less likely to end up really sick. Having said that, I still recommend masking when outside your home, washing or disinfecting your hands, and physically distancing as well. Remember, it’s not just about protecting yourself, it’s also about protecting your loved ones and your community.
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