Two “Flurona” cases – simultaneous infections with COVID-19 and the flu – were detected in Alabama children last week, according to a reference laboratory in Memphis, Tenn.
Compass Laboratory Services said both of the positive Flurona cases involved young children who had “significant symptoms,” of respiratory infection. The condition of the children was not released.
Dr. William Budd, chief scientific office of Compass Laboratory Services, said the two cases of Flurona were the first observed by the lab.
“Even though these are the first cases of ‘Flurona’ we have observed, we have seen many cases of co-infection between COVID-19 and respiratory bacterial pathogens,” Budd said. “Clinicians need access to more extensive testing as it has been shown that nearly half of hospitalized patients with flu like illnesses are infected with more than one respiratory pathogen. Infection with multiple pathogens complicates treatment and is associated with poor outcomes.”
Flu cases dropped dramatically last year amid increased social distancing and mask wearing but numbers have grown this year as those measures were relaxed. And, with current COVID positivity rates at greater than 50% in much of the state, incidences of co-infection with other viruses and bacteria will increase, Compass officials said.
How to protect your kids and yourself
People, particularly those in younger age groups can be co-infected with more than one respiratory virus at the same time and children are often exposed to more viruses in their environments, said Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
“COVID-19 and influenza are spread by respiratory droplets, so infection with both viruses can occur simultaneously,” Dr. Landers said. “It is important that persons with respiratory illnesses check with their medical provider, be tested, as appropriate, and follow medical advice. The risks of developing severe COVID-19 and influenza can be affected by persons taking all preventive measures, including vaccines, as age-appropriate for both illnesses, wearing the best fitting masks possible for age, social distancing to the extent possible, and maintaining good respiratory hygiene, including good hand washing.”
People six months of age and older are eligible for the flu vaccine. People give years of age and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and those 2-years-of-age and older should wear appropriate masks.