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Updated 10 January 2022

While the Omicron COVID-19 variant still looms worldwide, reports of co-infection cases known as ‘Flurona’ have been on the rise. Flurona refers to when an individual has the COVID-19 infection and the flu simultaneously. Flurona has only recently gained public attention, but being infected with two respiratory viruses simultaneously isn’t new.

Here’s what we know about the co-infection so far.

What is Flurona?

Flurona is a condition where an individual is infected with two viruses: one of influenza and the other of COVID-19. Flurona is not considered a new variant of coronavirus.

With the seasonal influenza upsurge in many countries and many people unvaccinated against either COVID or flu, it is possible for individuals to catch both viruses around the same time.

Health practitioners use diagnostic tests that can differentiate between respiratory infections like COVID-19, influenza A and B, and other respiratory viruses to detect the presence of double conditions like Flurona.

Is the Flurona dangerous?

Research on the Flurona infection is still underway, and it is too early to state anything about the severity of this binary infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that both COVID-19 and influenza can spread by droplets and aerosols. Flurona is a viral and contagious infection that can affect the upper respiratory tract, and protecting yourself from it is very similar to protecting yourself from COVID-19. Wearing masks, avoiding crowded areas, using hand sanitizers, and timely vaccination are some of the best ways to avoid being exposed to any virus.

So far, it has not raised the alarm as much as any other COVID-19 variant that have been classified as more severe because of their increased transmissibility and concerns about evading immune defences. With more information and research, it will be easier to acquire a better picture of the spread and threats associated with Flurona.

Where has Flurona been detected around the world?

The first case of the dual infection was detected in Israel. The patient was a hospitalized pregnant woman diagnosed with the flu and coronavirus with mild symptoms.

Flurona instances have also been reported in other countries, including the United States, Brazil, the Philippines and Hungary. There are concerns over the European region and other parts of the northern hemisphere that could be susceptible to a ‘Flurona wave’ due to the highly infectious Omicron variant that currently sweeps through the world.

What are the symptoms of Flurona?

As stated by the World Health Organization, symptoms of Flurona are similar to that of influenza or COVID-19 as both seem to affect the upper respiratory tract by causing severe infections.

Here are some of the common symptoms of the flu:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea

While some of the common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • 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
  • Diarrhoea

Since the viruses have nearly identical symptoms, testing is needed to diagnose both. Several tests are available to detect the flu, including swab testing of the throat or nose, which is quite similar to current COVID-19 testing procedures.

Are current vaccines effective against Flurona?

There is not yet enough evidence to state whether COVID-19 vaccines will help prevent the onset of the Flurona infection. However, the WHO has advised everyone that the most effective way to protect oneself from influenza and COVID-19 is to get vaccinated with both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines.

While the term ‘Flurona’ is relatively new, cases of flu and coronavirus co-infections are not. It has also occurred in people since the very start of the pandemic in 2020. If you feel you have flu, it is also possible that you might have a COVID-19 infection as well. Once you notice the symptoms, it is advisable to follow preventive measures and follow up with medical help.