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‘Flurona’: As If Omicron Wasn’t Bad Enough, Experts Are Now Watching COVID/Flu Co-Infection

‘Flurona’: As If Omicron Wasn’t Bad Enough, Experts Are Now Watching COVID/Flu Co-Infection

It’s a “Sharknado” scenario of infections as the 2021-2022 flu season has collided with the Coronavirus pandemic to create a hybrid illness health experts have dubbed “Flurona.” More cases of the flu-COVID dual infections are likely, but people who are vaccinated against both will have little to worry about, doctors say. But this isn’t the first time health care providers have seen co-infections of the flu and COVID-19, as well as other viruses.

Texas Children’s Hospital announced this week that tests confirmed a child was infected with both influenza A and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The patient was not hospitalized and is recovering at home, the hospital said in a press statement. They also have the dubious distinction of being the first children’s hospital in the U.S. to report a co-infection of COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in the summer. Dozens of children with co-infections required hospitalization. Since there’s no specific treatment or vaccine for RSV, experts speculate children with “flurona” may experience better outcomes. But knowing the dual viruses can co-exist adds another layer of worry to a weary nation entering its third year under the Coronavirus pandemic.

Health experts expect to see more “flurona” amid rapidly rising flu and coronavirus cases, the latter being driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Immunocompromised people are vulnerable to these infections, but co-infections are more likely to occur in young children, experts say, because their immune system is still unfamiliar with many common viruses.

Co-infections involving the flu may be rarer than other viruses, but health experts still expect to see rising cases of “flurona” as the U.S. approaches peak flu activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 43% of children 6 months to 17 years have been vaccinated for the flu as of December 4th.

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