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What is flurona? Here's what you need to know

Cases reported in California, Texas
Posted at 2:43 PM, Jan 05, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As if the surge of omicron cases to start the new year wasn't enough to handle as the pandemic nears a second year.

Now, there are reports of people contracting both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, now dubbed "flurona."

The term was conceived to indicate the presence of both ailments simultaneously and does not indicate a distinct disease.

MORE: How to tell if you have the coronavirus, the flu or the common cold

"You can certainly get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could be catastrophic to your immune system," said Dr. Adrian Burrowes at the University of Central Florida told CNN.

A COVID-19 testing site near Los Angeles detected that child had a case of "flurona" recently, according to a Wednesday report from KNBC.

Moderna booster shot
Pharmacist Kenni Clark prepares to inject Robert Champion, of Lawrence, Mass., with a booster dosage of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic at City of Lawrence's "The Center," which serves seniors, families and the community, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Lawrence. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

This case comes a few days after health officials in Israel said an unvaccinated pregnant woman in her 30s was also infected with both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

There was also a confirmed case of "flurona" earlier this week at Texas Children's Hospital, according to a report from USA Today. The patient was not hospitalized and was recovering at home.

Health experts are still studying how common it is to catch both at the same time.

"We're seeing it more in children because, A, children are less vaccinated against COVID, particularly younger children. B, children are less vaccinated against flu," said Dr. Larry Bush, an infectious disease specialist in Wellington.

Dr. Larry Bush, an infectious disease specialist in Wellington, speaks about flurona, Jan. 5, 2022
Dr. Larry Bush explains how people can catch both COVID-19 and the flu.

Bush said having both the flu and COVID at the same time is not necessarily more serious, especially among those vaccinated for both viruses.

Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone.

MORE: 5 things to know about omicron variant in 2022

Doctors say it is impossible to tell for sure if you have flu based on symptoms alone. If a doctor needs to know for sure whether you are sick with flu, there are laboratory tests that can be performed.

In addition to a COVID-19 booster shot, experts have advised people to also get an annual flu shot. The CDC has said that it is safe for people to get both shots at once.

This flu season is expected to be much more active than last winter. Bush said getting a flu shot shouldn't be overlooked.

"When I talk to the folks at Publix pharmacy ... and I ask the pharmacist, 'How's your flu vaccine going?' They say, 'poorly.' And the reason, basically, I think people are just a little bit tired of vaccines right now."

The latest figures from the CDC show that fewer than 40 percent of Americans have received a booster shot.