The term “flurona” is becoming more popular, much like the two things that inspired it — the coronavirus and the influenza virus.
It has received a lot of attention in the news and on social media
after two young pregnant women in Israel tested positive for both infections.
“Flurona” has only recently gained public attention,
but being infected with both viruses at the same time is nothing new: In the United States, a case was reported as early as February 2020. However, co-infections may be slightly higher now because people are more socially active than they were earlier in the pandemic. Cases have been confirmed in the US, Israel, Brazil, the Philippines, and Hungary so far.
What exactly is flurona?
It’s a made-up term to describe a situation in which a person has both a coronavirus infection and the flu.
Having multiple viruses at the same time is a “garden-variety normal thing,” according to Dr. Thomas Fekete, a professor of medicine, microbiology, and immunology at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine.
Dr. Judith O’Donnell, division chief of infectious diseases at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, says it’s no cause for concern.
“The name appears to imply that the viruses have somehow merged — which is not the case. “It’s just that a person may become infected with two respiratory viruses at the same time or within a short period,” O’Donnell explained.
“It’s unusual, but it’s not surprising that during a typical influenza season, which is currently underway in the northern hemisphere during the winter months, multiple respiratory viruses circulate at the same time, and that people can become infected with more than one respiratory virus at the same time.”
How widespread could it be?
Getting two viruses at the same time was known to happen before the pandemic.
“When we ran these respiratory viral panels, the ones that have been commercially accessible in the last five, six, seven, or eight years, I’d estimate about 10% of the ones that were positive had more than one virus-positive.” “It’s not extremely rare,” Fekete remarked.
Last year, flu cases decreased because people isolated themselves more to avoid contracting COVID-19. However, certain hospitals around the world have seen incidents of patients contracting both infections, according to Fekete.
“There is a lot more flu in the country.” As a result,
many people will likely infect with more than one virus,
maybe including a mix of influenza and coronavirus. So nothing out of the ordinary or shocking,” he explained.
How serious that flurona is?
According to health professionals, there is no single response to that question, and it varies depending on the individual.
The majority of the time, you can expect a mild infection.
People who have not been immunized against COVID-19 and the flu,
as well as the elderly and the immunocompromised, are the exceptions, according to O’Donnell.
According to Fekete, people who have two respiratory viruses frequently exhibit signs of only one virus.
“What I read about these combinations of influenza and coronavirus, for the most part, they behaved like you’d expect them to, which is to say, some people got very sick, some people didn’t get sick at all, and the symptoms were the kind of symptoms you’d expect, whether they were respiratory symptoms like coughing, sneezing, runny nose, or they were more systemic like fever and muscle aches and headaches,” he said.
“In that sense, they behave like either one or both, but I don’t think they were significantly distinct or odd.”
We’ll have to look at other situations to discover if this combo is unique…
But we don’t know much about it so far. We’ve only diagnosed a couple of them here at Temple,
and nothing stands out as particularly scary or unique.”
How flurona handled?
According to medical professionals, people who have both viruses will treat the same way they would if they just had one.
There aren’t many COVID-19 therapies available, especially for mild cases. Steroids give for patients with moderate to severe disease; Remdesivir, an injectable medicine, available for patients admitted to the hospital; and monoclonal antibodies offer to patients who are at high risk of significant sickness early in their illnesses. Monoclonal antibodies do not work as well against the omicron version. Hospitals anticipate receiving the recently approved Pfizer and Merck antiviral medications over the next few weeks.
There are also just a few influenza treatments accessible on prescription, including oseltamivir,
also known as Tamiflu, and baloxavir, popularly known as Xofluza.
What can I do to avoid ‘flurona’?
According to health professionals, the recommended approach is to obtain your COVID-19 vaccine and booster, as well as a flu shot. They also recommend avoiding large crowds and wearing masks indoors.
Multiple immunizations can obtain at the same time. If you elect to get them separately, give yourself a couple of weeks in between
because the other shot may not produce the necessary immunological response if you get it too soon.
“I’m just an old-fashioned man — just kind of suck it up, side effects aren’t all that severe, and the coronavirus vaccine side effects are probably worse than the flu vaccination, so adding the flu vaccine is probably not that big a deal,” Fekete said.
“Most clinics will do that,” he explained, “they’ll put one on one arm, one on the other, and send you home, and you’ll terrible for a day or two, and then you’ll be OK.” But I would say, let’s get them into you now rather than constantly making excuses not to do them, because you know how people, including myself, are, ‘I’ll do it later.’ I’ll finish it later. I’ll call you in a week.’ And then you forget, or you can’t get an appointment right away, and you don’t do it.”
Other vaccines can give at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccine or booster, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to O’Donnell, it boils down to a personal choice between getting them over with and avoiding adverse effects.
“There is no reduction in their effectiveness if you give them both at the same time, and your doctors know how to provide those vaccines,” she said.
“Side effects have varied greatly from person to person.” Some patients claim that after their booster shot, they had the same number of side effects that they did after their first or second shot. Others have reported that the booster shot did not cause as many side effects as the second dose of their mRNA vaccine. So it’s a truly unique experience that’s difficult to forecast.”