Earlier this month, Israel’s health ministry reported two cases of flurona, co-infection of coronavirus and influenza virus, both among pregnant women.
At the beginning of the pandemic, influenza cases saw a sharp decline across the world. Health experts held COVID-19 restrictions such as social distancing, wearing masks, and regular hand washing responsible for the low number of cases. However, as various countries relax their restrictions, flu cases have once again started to rise. Therefore, doctors are warning of a possible ‘twindemic’ as both coronavirus and flu cases continue to rise. Emerging cases of a coronavirus and flu co-infection, also called flurona, further add to the risk.
The new terminology first appeared when Israel’s health ministry reported the country’s first case. However, the catchy name used by the Israeli media outlets spread panic among the masses and implied it to be the world’s first such case. However, the fact remains that cases of flurona are nothing new and have occurred across the world.
According to Israeli media, the country’s first case occurred in an unvaccinated pregnant woman. She underwent hospitalization at the Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva and tested positive for both influenza and coronavirus. The second case occurred in a vaccinated pregnant woman who had also received a booster dose. In an interview with The Washington Post, Professor Arnon Vizhnitser, the hospital’s director of gynecology, reported that both cases had similar symptoms. However, unvaccinated women have a higher risk of severe symptoms. Both the cases recovered shortly and were discharged soon after.
Risk Remains Uncertain
Previously, cases of flurona have occurred in the United States, Brazil, Philippines, and even China. According to a case report, the first COVID-19 case in the Philippines had both COVID-10 and Influenza B infection. Moreover, influenza is not the only virus that can occur simultaneously with coronavirus. In the past, doctors have reported co-infections of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and coronavirus among children.
Currently, there is limited data available on the severity of flurona. However, as flu cases continue to rise, there is risk of an increase in such co-infections. Therefore, health experts are urging people to not skip their flu vaccinations and continue wearing masks, along with other practising other COVID-19 restrictions.
Edrada, Edna M et al. “First COVID-19 infections in the Philippines: a case report.” Tropical medicine and health vol. 48 21. 14 Apr. 2020, doi:10.1186/s41182-020-00203-0