GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Winter is a time people normally get sick with different viruses, like the flu or RSV. Now add COVID-19 on top of that.
In fact, some people are getting sick with what medical experts are calling flurona. It is just as it sounds, an infection of both the flu and coronavirus at the same time. Health experts say it’s uncommon, but not impossible to find.
“Traditionally it’s unusual to have two viral infections at the same time,” said Dr. Paul Cook, professor of medicine and chief of infectious disease at Brody School of Medicine. “My understanding is that a lot of people aren’t getting this. But it is flu season now, and of course, there is a lot of omicron going around.”
Right now, there are confirmed cases of flurona in North Carolina, according to an Atrium Health doctor in Charlotte.
“We’ve seen scattered cases in adults, and scattered cases in pediatrics,” said Dr. Katie Passaretti with Atrium.
There aren’t any known cases in Eastern North Carolina, yet.
“It wouldn’t be surprising if we had some people who tested positive for both in Greenville or in Pitt County,” Cook said.
Cook said people who are entering hospitals with symptoms are generally being tested for both flu and COVID, but if you’re just getting a COVID test at a testing site, you wouldn’t be able to tell if you have both.
Right now, Cook says he doesn’t see flurona posing a huge threat, but it’s still important to be mindful.
“I don’t know that the clinical outcome is going to be any worse with both of them,” he said. “Influenza can be a very serious illness and it can kill people and people lose sight of that. So it is important that people get vaccinated both against influenza and coronavirus.”
Both flu and COVID shots are widely available in Eastern North Carolina right now. See below for local resources.