The term flurona began to circulate after simultaneous COVID-19 and flu infections were discovered in Israel and several US states in early 2022. As with any new potential infection, it’s natural to ask the common questions:
- What is it?
- How serious is it?
- How do I know if I have it?
- How can I prevent getting it?
- What do medical experts think about it?
This page provides an introduction to what we know about flurona to date. After reading, you’ll know exactly what the buzz is about and how to help keep your community protected against it.
- Flurona Definition
- Flurona Symptoms: What to Expect If You Have It
- How to Protect Your Community Against Flurona
- Are Experts Concerned About Flurona?
When you “have flurona”, that means you have the flu (influenza virus) and COVID-19 at the same time (also called a coinfection). It’s important to note that flurona is not a new disease or COVID variant. Flurona is still a relatively uncommon occurrence (compared to having only COVID-19 or only the flu).
“Coinfection is rare with COVID-19 and the flu, or COVID-19 and other types of infections that you might get as far as upper respiratory infections because COVID-19 tends to take over,” says Dr. McMullan, M.D. of Family Medicine at Mayo Clinic. “Once COVID-19 is in your body, it’s going to be the predominant virus, but there are some rare cases where we have seen people getting both COVID-19 and the flu. So it is possible, but it’s certainly not common.”
Flurona Symptoms: What to Expect If You Have It
Since flurona is a coinfection of COVID-19 and the flu, individuals infected with flurona will likely experience symptoms of one or both illnesses.
- Click here to read about flu symptoms from the CDC
- Click here to read about COVID-19 symptoms from the CDC
Experts warn that self-diagnosing flurona may be difficult due to the similarity of the symptoms between the two infections.
“One thing is the fever with flu, with influenza, tends to be a little higher, but that’s subtle,” says Dr. Mark Loafman, chair of family and community medicine for Cook County Health. “So 101, 102 [degree] fever can happen with COVID, the fever can get a little higher with flu but it can also be low-grade. So other than that, you know, coughs, headaches, stuffy nose… congestion, some shortness of breath – those are all very, very common for both flu and COVID and I think for most of us, we wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference.”
“Nasal congestion; coughing; maybe a sore throat; and difficulty breathing or catching your breath, especially with exertion, can be symptoms of the flu,” says Dr. McMullan. “More commonly, what we see are fevers and body aches, specifically muscle aches may be more indicative of the flu itself, rather than other upper respiratory viruses or even COVID-19.”
Individuals who feel unwell with any of the described symptoms for either of the two infections may consider getting tested for COVID-19 and the flu to learn if they have flurona.
How to Protect Your Community Against Flurona
Follow CDC Guidelines
Similar to COVID-19, individuals who take certain precautions in their day-to-day lives can help reduce the chances of getting infected with flurona. Click here for guidance from the CDC on how to reduce the chances of getting sick. Making lifestyle changes can also help reduce the chances of getting sick this winter.
With so much attention on COVID-19, 20 million fewer doses of the flu vaccine were administered this year compared to previous years.
“As I’ve been out promoting the flu shot, there is a general finding of people forgetting about flu because they’re so concentrated on COVID, and there is also real vaccine fatigue, which is understandable,” says Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “It’s still the unvaccinated who are having the most reactions and ending up in the hospital versus the vaccinated. Vaccinated people have significantly mild symptoms compared to those who are not vaccinated. That will be the same with the flu.”
The CDC provides up-to-date resource pages with information on COVID-19 and flu vaccines.
- Click here for more information on COVID-19 vaccines. Click here for special information on COVID-19 vaccines for teenagers and children.
- Click here for more information on influenza vaccines. For 2022, four different flu shots are approved for every age six and older.
- The CDC states that both vaccines may be administered at the same time, meaning there’s no need to book separate appointments or wait a certain amount of time in between shots.
“The best way to prevent concurrent infection with influenza and SARS-CoV-2 is to get vaccinated with both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, which are both highly effective and can be administered at the same time,” says a spokesperson for the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
Are Experts Concerned About Flurona?
Due to how common coinfections are, some experts say that flurona is not a major cause for concern.
“It’s important for people to know that a lot of these coinfections, we’ve seen them for decades,” says Dr. Frank Esper, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases. “This is not a new phenomenon.”
Others hope that flurona will lead to greater health awareness in communities.
“I think it’s important for people to be aware that there are … viruses other than SARS-CoV-2 out there,” says Flor Munoz, MD, MSc, associate professor of pediatrics, molecular virology, and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Stay Up to Date on the Latest and Stay Safe
To stay up to date on important flurona developments, visit the official CDC page for COVID-19 updates.