Covid NJ: What To Know About “Flurona”

Source: New Jersey Patch

To date, there have been 95 documented cases in New Jersey of “flurona” since November, where someone has both the flu and test positive for COVID-19 at the same time, the state Department of Health said late Thursday afternoon.

“The Department has confirmed a total of 95 cases positive for influenza and COVID-19; cases have an age range of less than four months to 83 years, a median of 23,” said Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health. “Not common to have the co-infection, but certainly does happen.”

Top doctors in the state said they were not surprised.

“The flu is here and SARS-CoV-2 is here and people are going to get both,” said Dr. Stanley Weiss, an infectious and chronic disease epidemiologist and professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

One singular case of flurona — having both the flu and coronavirus — was documented Jan. 3 in Israel, and the news spread breathlessly across the world. Since then, there have been confirmed cases of both flu and coronavirus across the U.S. and worldwide: A child on vacation in California tested positive for both, as did a teenager in Texas, The Washington Post reported.

Both cases were mild, and in neither instance did the teen or child have to be hospitalized.

There was also a case in December at a hospital in Kansas, “whom we treated and discharged without a whole lot of fanfare,” wrote Dr. Raghu Adiga, chief medical officer for a Kansas City hospital in Scientific American, who called the fear over flurona “panic.”

“The Times of Israel made a mundane two-virus story go viral by using a catchy, made-up name of ‘flurona’ and reporting that this is the ‘first’ such case in the country, which some people read as the first case ever,” he wrote. “It is reasonable to find patients who may catch both viruses around the same time.”

So far worldwide, no deaths have been linked to “flurona.”

“I think in part because there’s a catchy name attached to it it’s gotten quite a bit of attention,” said Weiss. “Since they are both respiratory viruses — contracted through breathing and the nasal cavity — the chance of getting both is increased in probability.”

Weiss said he read of a “very small case study” of people infected with both influenza and SARS-CoV-2, and that study showed “There was a heightened risk of people developing more severe respiratory infection, but it did not show increased mortality.”

The flu and coronavirus have similar symptoms including fever, cough, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, and muscle and body aches. The viruses are also transmitted similarly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Last year flu was very low in New Jersey because people were taking social distancing seriously and wearing masks,” said Weiss. “Now we know flu is here in New Jersey and it seems to primarily be influenza A. So the chances of acquiring both are certainly there.”

Dr. Weiss reccomends being vaccinated and boosted, and getting a seasonal flu shot. The not fully vaccinated should consider KN95 or N95 surgical masks.

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