Man describes sweating and scratching his throat from razor blade

  • Co-infections of the flu and COVID-19 (colloquially nicknamed “flurona”) are unusual, but they will likely become more common this flu season.
  • A man who had the flu and COVID-19 at the same time in December said the worst lasted about 48 hours and included terrible night sweats.
  • Experts point out that getting vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19 will reduce your chances of being co-infected.

When Jamie Grayson started feeling sick in mid-December, he didn’t think much about it.

“I felt like I had a sore throat”, baby gear expert Insider said. “Like I just screamed in bars.”

But as his symptoms progressed over the course of a few days, he began to wonder if it wasn’t just a case of laryngitis. He had just visited friends in New York City, “where it’s like an Omicron home right now,” he said.

“When I started to develop a cough I was like ‘mmm, something’s wrong.'”

Grayson began to wonder if he might not have contracted COVID-19 and went to a clinic to get tested.

“I changed my flight home because I wanted to make sure I tested negative before getting on the plane,” said Grayson, who lives in Denver. “He just felt responsible.”

Although he is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus (along with Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine), Grayson has not yet received a booster injection, and he has not received any

vaccine against influenza

this year either. At the clinic, based on his symptoms and vaccine status, clinicians tested him for both the flu and the coronavirus. To his surprise, both tests came back positive.

Disease experts call what Grayson had a “co-infection”, but you may have heard of it recently as “flurona”. No matter what you call it, a co-infection like Grayson’s is nothing to worry about, but it’s a reason to make sure you’re up to date with your flu and COVID-19 shots this. winter.

“Fortunately, I was vaccinated, and it was quite mild,” he said. “I don’t understand what the problem is, to be honest.”

“Flurona” is what scientists call a co-infection

“Flurona is not a term we use at the CDC,” Alicia Budd, an epidemiologist in the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Insider.

The term emerged recently after a host of coronavirus-flu co-infections were diagnosed, first in Israel, then in California, Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and North Carolina. Infectious disease experts generally agree with Grayson that co-infection is not a “big deal,” at least for most people.

“This is the very unlucky individual who ends up with two respiratory virus infections at the same time,” Budd said.

The reason we haven’t heard much about influenza-COVID-19 co-infections before is that the flu barely circulated last year, virtually (at least temporarily) disappearing due to COVID-19 lockdowns. , as well as widespread measures of masking and social distancing.

Budd says the co-infections “could occur with two viruses circulating at the same time.” We’ve seen it happen before with RSV and the flu, and different strains of the flu. “This is not a situation where these two viruses merge,” Budd said. “This is a situation in which an unlucky individual has been infected with two separate viruses.”

The CDC has a hospital monitoring system called FluSurv-NET this could provide clues over the next few weeks on the true frequency of flu-coronavirus co-infections, at least in hospitalized patients, Budd said.

“It seems to be very rare at this point, but it is definitely something that we will continue to monitor through this system,” she added.

Flu and COVID symptoms are hard to disentangle

jamie grayson, drink a cocktail

Jamie Grayson, pictured without having a “flurona”.

Courtesy of Jamie Grayson

For Grayson, one of those first “unlucky” recipients of a double coronavirus-flu infection during this pandemic, the worst symptoms lasted for about two to three days.

His sore throat at one point got so bad that he said “it was like razor blades had been stuck in my throat from the coughing situation”, and he said he ” had wild chills and sweats to the point where I would have to change my bed, and turn in the middle of the night, because my sheets were soaking wet. “

After this “two to three day” patch, however, he started to feel better, except for a “residual cough.”

He spent the next 10 days in isolation, to avoid spreading his illnesses. The clinic had advised him to closely monitor his respiratory symptoms and seek emergency treatment if he had difficulty breathing. Since he didn’t, he just rested, “dragged around, watched a lot of Food Network, and hydrated.”

He hasn’t lost his sense of taste or smell, which were previously hallmarks of contracting COVID, but are less and less common now.

“It was pretty sweet, other than the sweats,” he said, describing it as “a whole body bath, one leg under a blanket, the rest of my body lying on the bed, totally uncomfortable, terrible “.

How your body reacts to the flu and COVID-19 at the same time

Getting sick with more than one virus at a time can increase – or even decrease – the seriousness of each disease. It depends on the person and the viruses involved.

For example, researchers in Norway did research in the late 1970s and early 1980s that suggested that seasonal influenza infections may have prevented some RSV infections in children at certain times of the year. Likewise, in some cases, being infected with a strain of the flu might prevent one person from catching another at the same time – in others, it may not.

Dr Carolyn Goldzweig, chief medical officer at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Care Foundation, said the level of practitioner concern for co-infection “really depends on the frailty of the patient.”

“A patient who has normal immune capacity is likely to develop an immune reaction, and they will try to fight off both viruses,” she said. In this case, “It’s just symptomatic treatment for both. Tylenol for fever and body aches, and pushes up fluids, and rests, and that sort of thing.”

Budd agreed that the concern really is: is this patient highly vulnerable to COVID-19 or the flu in general? “People who are prone to a more severe infection with either virus will likely have a harder time managing it if they are infected with both,” Budd said.

For these high-risk patients, doctors may prescribe antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu for the flu and PAXLOVID for COVID-19. Taken early, they can help prevent hospitalization and death in vulnerable patients.

How to prevent flurona

Budd and Goldzweig said the first prevention measure to highlight is vaccination, both for COVID-19 and the flu. It is not too late to get your flu shot, if you haven’t already.

While it is true that the strains targeted by both the influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccines do not fit perfectly with what is currently circulating, vaccines not only make it less likely that you will have a co-infection in the first place, they also make an infection smoother, faster, and easier, if you get it.

“A lot of people don’t get the flu shot,” Goldzweig said. “In younger kids the flu can keep you from working for weeks, you know, it can really put you off.”

Grayson says he is “very happy” to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before contracting his flu-coronavirus co-infection.

“I know people who aren’t vaccinated right now, and they’ve been sick for two weeks with it,” he said, referring to unvaccinated friends who caught COVID recently.

He said if he hadn’t been vaccinated, “I don’t know what the flu and COVID would have done, to be honest.”


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