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COVID-19 and influenza: “flurona”, a co-infection that is not new | Coronavirus: Ontario


Israel recently detected its first case of COVID-19 and influenza infection in a single person, but this co-infection is not the first of its kind.

aware of the case of a person co-infected with influenza and COVID-19 in Israel and say monitor the situation.

Although rare, co-infection of respiratory viral diseases can occur. This is not the first case of this type of co-infection during the COVID-19 pandemic, supports the government agency, which does not have statistics on the co-infection with influenza and COVID-19 in the country.

The “flurona”, a term that worries

When the flu and the coronavirus co-infect the same individual, it does not necessarily result in the emergence of a new disease entity., specifies by email theWorld Health Organization.

We have to stop thinking that when the two viruses are present in the same person, it will create a new hybrid or a new virus. It doesn’t happen; it’s impossiblesays clinical microbiologist and head of the microbiology division of Eastern Ontario Laboratory Services, Dr. Marc Desjardins.

Marc Desjardins, clinical microbiologist at the Ottawa Hospital, facing the camera.

Dr. Marc Desjardins is a clinical microbiologist at the Ottawa Hospital.

Photo: TurnedNews.com

Individuals are often infected with multiple pathogens that co-circulate in the community. The more people get tested, the more different pathogens can be detected, explains theWorld Health Organization.

The term flurona, used by certain media and Internet users, can be alarming, says Dr. Desjardins.

This is not a new phenomenon. It has long been known that viral infections can be mixed, indicates the microbiologist.

It is not a hybrid or a new virus.

A quote from Dr Marc Desjardins, clinical microbiologist at the Ottawa Hospital

Expression flurona can mislead the public, thinks Dr. Anne Gatignol, a virologist and full professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University in Montreal.

A woman in a laboratory.

According to the virologist, co-infections could be more frequent in the coming weeks, but few cases will be detected.

Photo: Provided by Anne Gatignol

There are many, many virus co-infections. […] We have always spoken of co-infections when we characterize them. So I think giving a co-infection a different name will only add confusion to the audience., she explains.

The World Health Organization also recommends the appellation influenza and COVID-19 co-infection.

Cases of co-infections

The number of COVID-19 and influenza co-infection cases remains relatively low, according to the WHO.

To date, Public Health Ontario has not detected any co-infections in its laboratory.

Since the majority of symptoms are virus-like [respiratoire] at the other, testing is the only way to tell if a person is infected with more than one virus, explains clinical microbiologist Marc Desjardins.

A technician works under the hood of a containment level 2 laboratory.

Testing for the two viruses can determine if there is indeed a co-infection. The treatments are different for the two viruses although the symptoms are similar.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Érik Chouinard

For now, the flu virus is not circulating very much. It will probably increase, says Dr. Anne Gatignol of McGill University.

There will be co-infections, but most of the time they will not be detected. You really have to test for both, explains the virologist, as in the case of hospitalization.

Influenza activity in the country remains low for this time of year, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Cases of co-infection with influenza and COVID-19 in different countries have [déjà] been reported in the scientific literature, [mais] more research is needed to understand whether this type of co-infection has an impact on the severity or spread of the disease, says the federal body.

L’World Health Organization also wait additional evidence for [entre autres] better understand the interactions between the two viruses and their impact on vulnerable people.

A double vaccination

In Ontario, the provincial government continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 and influenza situation in Ontario, Canada and internationally, ensures the Ministry of Health by email.

The detection of this co-infection is a reminder of the importance of respecting the health measures linked to the coronavirus, according to many experts. These restrictions can help limit the spread of COVID-19, in addition to that of the flu.

A caregiver vaccinates a patient.

Vaccination against influenza and COVID-19 can be done simultaneously.

Photo: (Evan Mitsui / CBC)

Influenza and COVID-19 viruses can cause serious health complications, which could be increased if you are infected with both viruses at the same time, depending on the province.

Vaccination will therefore be important. Ontarians 12 years of age or older can currently receive a flu shot along with a COVID-19 vaccine.

In the coming weeks, there will be more and more cases of influenza, according to Dr. Guy Boivin, microbiologist, infectious disease specialist and virology researcher at Laval University in Quebec.

Dr. Guy Boivin is a microbiologist, infectious disease specialist at the CHU de Québec and professor of pediatrics at the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University.

Dr Guy Boivin is a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at the CHU de Québec.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc

We are not yet in full bloom, but the flu epidemic is starting to show up in Canada and the United States, he said.

According to the researcher, it will be necessary to monitor cases of co-infections, particularly in hospitals, to verify whether the co-infection increases the severity of COVID-19 or if, on the contrary, it makes it less serious.

There could be a phenomenon of viral interference. We are studying this in the laboratory, notes Dr Guy Boivin.

In collaboration with a Quebec hospital network, the expert will attempt to observe the ways in which certain respiratory viruses interact and the repercussions of these co-infections, including those of influenza and COVID-19, on these patients.

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