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Hopkins doctor: Getting flu and COVID at the same time is nothing new

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 17:58:45-05

BALTIMORE — Flurona has been a popular topic on social media this week, it’s when someone contracts the flu virus and coronavirus simultaneously.

And according to doctors at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, there have been similar cases here in Maryland.

January is the peak of flu season and the number of cases are increasing just as people are seeing a surge of the new omicron variant of coronavirus.

Now doctors like Panagis Galiatsatos who’s a pulmonary and critical care medicine physician and assistant professor for Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said people should be concerned about catching both.

“One thing we should note our bodies are not one infection at a time. Co-infection‘s with COVID have actually been well documented before even flurona has surfaced,” Dr. Galiatsatos said.

Dr. Galiatsatos said he’s seen bacterial and fungal infections in COVID patients so it is possible to contract multiple viruses at the same time, especially when the way you contract them are similar.

“So when we discuss catching a virus through the air it’s not that every virus is made the same way. Some viruses you need to breathe in rather high amounts of viral load before you even get infected like the flu virus, other viruses like the coronavirus not so much like,” Dr Galiatsatos said.

Doctor Galiatsatos said he believes the increase in the amount of social activity people have experienced recently is likely the cause in the increase of transmissibility.

“ These airborne viruses need us to engage in social behavior, where we're breathing other people's air for rather long periods of time. Last year we had really strict restrictions on what we could do going out socially. Now because we’ve eased those restrictions COVID is still being caught and we’re seeing almost pre-pandemic flu cases at the moment. And yes, it is much more fatal when you have more than one infection happening at the same time,” he said.

And, because these viruses are similarly spread and can somewhat have the same symptoms it can be difficult to self-diagnose which one you have.

“So from our standpoint, know, if you're having new lung related symptoms, new cough that's associated with new phlegm production and new shortness of breath. And especially if you're tied into fevers, definitely notify your own general practitioner, primary care physician, or health care professional, so he or she can try to differentiate which virus is happening,” Dr. Galiatsatos said.

Doctor Galiatsatos also said people should minimize their social activity at indoor events with minimal air circulation and overall be cautious about who you’re around.

“ So if you're going to be inviting people to your home, talk to them, say, hey, what have you been doing? How are you feeling? Have you gotten your vaccines? So have these conversations before people step foot into your home,” dr. Galiatsatos said.

Lastly, he’s encouraging people to get the flu and COVID vaccines.

“ Getting those vaccines is kind of like wearing that bike helmet, right? If you do happen to catch them you we still be safe. A bike helmet If you fall you should still limit your health injury. If you're eligible for boosters, get your booster,” Dr. Galiatsatos said.

This week Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency until the end of the month. Gov Hogan also said in a press conference Thursday the state is in the process of distributing 1 million at home rapid tests through local health departments, all In an effort to help combat COVID.