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Pine Belt doctors break down ‘Flurona’ - what is it and what’s the risk?

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:57 PM CST
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - “Flurona” is a new word circulating, a term some people use to describe getting the flu and coronavirus at the same time.

Hattiesburg Clinic doctors say it is possible to get infected with each virus at the same time.

“Flurona” isn’t a new disease, but since the flu and COVID have some of the same symptoms, doctors often test for both and both tests can come back positive.

“So, we test people for both not infrequently and especially younger children will have influenza and COVID-19,” said Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh, who practices at Hattiesburg Clinic & Forrest General Hospital.

Kids are especially at risk and seeing the dual infection. Many of them aren’t vaccinated.

Pediatrician Dr. Victoria Sivils said she’s seeing a lot of positive flu and COVID cases.

“We have the lowest rates in the state of Mississippi for the age range 5-11 for COVID vaccinations, and we’re seeing an all-time low in flu vaccination rates,” Sivils said. “At the pediatric clinic, we have seen flu this season where we didn’t see it last season and we are also seeing a lot of COVID and some combo cases.”

,Doctors say symptoms can be more severe when you have both viruses at the same time.

“So, this is two separate entities that your immune system has to fight against,” Rouhbakhsh said. “They will potentially be attacking different parts of your body so it’s more work for your immune system and can potentially result in worse illness.”

For kids, the most important way to fight the illnesses is to stay hydrated.

“The biggest threat if you get flu and COVID at the same time is dehydration,” Sivils said. “Both of these illnesses give kids fever, and fever makes kids not want to drink and not want to eat.”

Doctors say “Flurona’”isn’t a new illness to be overly concerned about, but it’s a good idea to continue practicing safety measures to avoid spreading the flu and COVID.

“So, it is a cause for concern as long as it’s a healthy fear,” Rouhbakhsh. said. “Now, the good news is if we detect influenza, we actually have medications that can mitigate the risk of that illness becoming more severe. And now we also have some medications that can help people if they have COVID-19, including a couple oral medications and, of course, the monoclonal antibodies all three of which are in super short supply,.

“(The monoclonals), they’re actually only being offered to people (who) are high risk. So, good news and bad news is often the case during this pandemic.”

Sivils says there everyone is susceptible to getting the combo of flu and COVID,.

“I want kids to continue to learn they thrive the best in school” Sivils said. “And I do think that the masks work, you know. The science shows us that the masks help us prevent that spread of infection, and especially with the new CDC guidelines, you know, it’s where you could potentially quarantine for five days and then mass for five days.

“(But) that doesn’t really apply to our pediatric population very much, especially not if schools are not requiring masks. And so, just, you know, wash those hands, get your vaccine and then you know, just wear those masks to keep us protected, to keep us healthy.”

Doctors say if you are having symptoms, like fever, chills, cough and aches, you should make an appointment to get tested.

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