HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Fall is almost here, and typically that is the start of flu season.
But flu is already circulating this summer, as well as COVID, and now there are patients who are coming down with both at the same time. It’s sometimes referred to as Flurona, and it even hit the WAVY-TV 10 newsroom.
WAVY Producer Bob Bennett is back to work, but not back to himself after battling COVID-19 and flu at the same time.
“Yea, I’m exhausted. I mean, after this newscast, I’m going to go home and go to bed,” he said.
Doctors at Patient First in Hampton have seen other cases as well.
“It’s been a few out there, enough to be noticeable, but it’s not been a great number,” Dr. Gregory Pierce told 10 On Your Side.
Dr. Pierce said the good news is that a double diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean patients are twice as sick.
“That’s not been my experience; people who have both just happen to have both,” he said.
The symptoms for both are very similar, fever, fatigue and cough. Still, people tend to get hit differently.
“It hit me like a truck, and it might have been like two or three trucks; it was that bad,” Bennett said.
Flurona is not new, but perhaps newly noted this time of year. Dr. Pierce told 10 On Your Side that they usually don’t test for flu in summer, and now they are.
Also, because of masking and social distancing, health officials saw very little flu in the last two years.
“But now, we’re loosening things up so the big question is what’s going to happen this year with the flu and the COVID both circulating at the same time?”
Only time will tell, but if you want to stay well, remember the mantra of doctors everywhere: Wash your hands, stay home when you’re sick and consider covering up.
“I’m back to masking up for a good long time,” Bennett said.
Doctors also recommend getting a flu shot as they become available in the next month or so, and getting a COVID vaccine and booster shot when eligible.
There are also treatments for both viruses when given early, however, there has been no guidance yet from the CDC on prescribing both at the same time.
“There have however been studies which advocate for the medications being used at the same time if a concurrent infection of influenza and COVID is confirmed in order to best treat the individual viruses,” Associate Professor of EVMS Family & Community Medicine, Dr. John Snellings told WAVY.
When asked about any negative side effects or risks, Dr. Snellings answered, “there is no evidence as of yet to warn against taking these medications at the same time. That being said, taking multiple medications has an inherent risk of interactions and potential adverse reactions. Patients should consult with their physicians before taking these medications, either separately or together.”
Virginians who have not been fully vaccinated, or are eligible for booster doses, can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (877) 829-4682 to find nearby vaccination clinics.
Those seeking to find or schedule a testing appointment can visit vase.vdh.virginia.gov/testingappointment.