Distinguishing Covid-19 symptoms from the flu’s is not always easy. But when both viruses decide to attack the same person at the same time, it is even more complicated. It is in this very situation a pregnant woman found herself in this winter.
This past December 30, 2021, the sick woman went to the Tel-Aviv hospital, Israel, showing mild symptoms. The test was clear: she caught both viruses at the same time. The woman was not vaccinated against the flu or Covid, but only presents a mild illness: doctors then decided to let her go home.
This specific mix of flu and Covid has been called “Flurona” by Israeli media: a portmanteau word mixing “flu” and corona.
Should we be worried to see these two viruses coexist in the same body? No, specialists say: coinfection cases are common and very classic in virology. Pr. Yves Le Tulzo – head of ICU and infectious diseases at the Rennes University Hospital – explains in Le Figaro “the SARS-CoV-2 infection increases the risk of nosocomial infection through bacteria and/or fungal. […] Severe viral infections like bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections provoke deep depression in the immune system including a decrease of our defenses, which leads to secondary infections”. To put it another way, the body weakened by a virus has more risks to let another infection settle in, because the sick’s immune defenses are already busy and cannot repel all the other threats showing.
What has doctors worried is the damages the two viruses can cause in one body. Coronavirus and flu both attack patients’ upper airways. Caregivers also anticipate an overload of hospital units that will have to face the flu and the covid epidemics at the same time.
It seems Flurona is not more dangerous than a usual virus – and especially it is not a new variant or a new epidemic wave. Many health authorities consider that many more Flurona cases might have been without being reported, since symptoms of both diseases are similar. In 2020 already, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association read: “Physicians in several countries have reported patients who tested positive for both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza”.