KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Health officials say the term “flurona” has taken off thanks to social media. While the term is new, the diagnosis isn’t. It just refers to someone infected with both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. It’s also known as co-infection.
“Certainly we chuckle at it. it’s easy to say. It’s easy to get across the idea that hey you have an infection with two different viruses,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Health System.
While the term “flurona” may sound funny or even made up, contracting both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time is no laughing matter.
“We know the risk is there. We know that people die every year of influenza,” Hawkinson said. “So it’s certainly worse or potentially worse to have an infection with both of them at that same time.”
The University of Kansas Health System’s hospitals, like many area hospitals, are overwhelmed with COVID-19 hospitalizations. Now they’re starting to see flu hospitalizations too.
“We know in our hospital right now I believe we have 3 or 4 patients hospitalized with influenza,” Hawkinson said. “One of those has also tested positive for COVID. So, we do have one with coinfection or one with “flurona,” if you will.”
At the Jackson County Health Department, it’s been monitoring the rise of COVID-19 cases and the flu.
Last year the flu was almost nonexistent due to masking mandates and social distancing requirements. This flu season, it is reporting more than 450 flu cases so far.
“We have only seen a handful so far. I want to say maybe two so far. It is definitely rare to see co-infections but especially when you are dealing with a reportable disease that is surging it’s one of those things it’s not outside the realm of possibility,” said Chip Cohlmia with the Jackson County Health Department.
The coronavirus and flu are both respiratory infections so the symptoms may be similar. Those symptoms include fever, coughing, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat and even body aches. The severity of symptoms will vary from person-to-person based on their immune system.
However, health experts say catching both simultaneously can be very taxing on the body or even deadly.
That’s why they continue to preach masks and shots.
“We know right now at this instance, at this time period that we are at, masking is the correct thing to do,” Hawkinson said. “Obviously, vaccination is the other large thing that will make an impact as well.”