The arrival of the new year brings new beginnings, new year’s resolutions, and now, a new coronavirus term: “Flurona.”
“Flurona” is the latest addition to the pandemic terminology list and it does not refer to a new condition, variant or illness.
According to Bud Lawrence, medical director of emergency care at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, “flurona” is a co-infection of the influenza virus and the coronavirus and there is some added concern with the possibility of someone being infected with both at the same time.
“Each of these viruses in and of themselves causes potentially significant infection,” Lawrence said. “There are people that die from influenza, and there are people that are dying from COVID. In general, getting them both together is potentially worse than having them on their own.”
Lawrence also said the COVID-19 variant and the influenza strain someone is infected with will determine how sick they may become.
The first case of “flurona” in L.A. County was reported on Sunday at a 911 COVID Testing site near the Getty Center in Brentwood.
Steve Farzam, chief operating officer of 911 COVID Testing, said in a media briefing on Wednesday that a teenage boy, who returned from a family vacation in Mexico, tested positive for both viruses.
Farzam also said the boy is experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms.
The flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, so their symptoms can be similar, ranging from no symptoms to severe symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include fever, coughing, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea, along with muscle and body aches.
In order to prevent getting infected from either viruses, Lawrence recommends getting fully vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza.
“If you can get your flu shot, that’s one less viral infection you potentially would be exposed to or actually get infected by,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence also said getting a COVID-19 booster seems to be one of the “biggest differentiators” in terms of how sick people are getting with the Omicron variant.
“It definitely looks like the data is starting to show that being boosted is likely to be very beneficial for people,” Lawrence said.
With the Omicron variant fueling this year’s winter COVID-19 surge in the midst of flu season, there’s a greater chance that people will test positive for both viruses at the same time. Although co-infections are uncommon, last year’s flu season also saw cases of influenza and COVID-19 in the same person at the same time.
The word “flurona” may be new, but the medical instruction is not.