LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The first reported case of flurona – having both influenza and coronavirus at the same time– has been detected at the COVID-19 testing center across the street from the Getty Center.
The patient was described only as a teenage boy with mild symptoms who tested positive for both flu and COVID. He and his family had just returned from a trip to Cabo San Lucas, and he was the only member experiencing symptoms. He was the only one in his family to test positive for both viruses, but one of his parents has tested positive for COVID.
“We were in contact with the mother yesterday, the child is in good spirits, and at home and doing well,” said Steve Farzam of 911 COVID Testing.
The testing site, run by 911 COVID Testing, says they’ve seen about a 30% positivity rate among the people tested in the past few days, along with a few confirmed cases of the flu.
The site began using the dual tests when people who had tested negative for COVID came back because they were still experiencing symptoms.
“This one swab will give us traces of Influenza A, Influenza B, and SARS-CoV-2,” he said.
CBSLA’s Joy Benedict spoke to Dr. Otto Yang, an infectious disease expert for UCLA Health, on Wednesday who said he has seen several cases of people with both influenza and coronavirus in the hospital currently.
“If it’s a bad virus season and a lot of virus is circulating, it’s not unusual to be exposed to more than one because they all travel the same,” Dr. Yang said.
Testing positive for both influenza and coronavirus, a condition now being called flurona, was reported this weekend in Israel. That patient was reportedly an unvaccinated pregnant woman with mild symptoms. Other cases of flurona have apparently surfaced in Florida and Texas, and they all seem to be among minors — children and teenagers.
Because COVID and the flu are caught the same way, most hospitals test patients for more than just COVID-19.
“At UCLA here, it’s a standard to both together anyway because the two look so similar and the two are traveling the same way, so it’s just assumed that if you’re testing for one, you should test for the other as well,” Dr. Yang said.
Flu and COVID-19 symptoms, particularly the Omicron variant, overlap in many ways – respiratory difficulties, weakness, sniffles, according to Farzam.
The detection of flurona should not be cause for alarm, he said, but another reminder to take precautions such as wearing a mask, washing hands, and staying home when feeling sick.
Dr. Yang also said that if a person is not severely ill, it’s probably best to not try and go get tested, and added that those who are vaccinated are likely to have symptoms that are manageable at home, regardless of which virus you might have.
“Right now, the emergency rooms are clogged up. There’s a shortage of tests, and so if you’re risk factors are low for severe disease, it’s better to just stay home and recuperate,” said Dr. Yang.
Those who are working in a health care setting, nurses or doctors, as well as those who might work in the school system, it is important to test, in order to let others know whether you’re positive or not.