Combination of corona, influenza viruses causes ‘florona’; first case in Israel

The first was of a pregnant woman admitted to a hospital for delivery. She was not vaccinated for either of the two viruses

Israeli doctors say while it looks new, the 'florona' disease causing variant has been active for some time now and scientists are already collecting data to know its impact on human health. | Representational image

A double infection of COVID-19 and influenza has been labelled ‘florona’ and its first case was detected in Israel recently.

Meanwhile, Israel’s national health providers began administering fourth vaccine shots against COVID-19 on Friday to individuals with compromised immune systems.

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said the first case of ‘florona’ was of a pregnant woman who was admitted to a hospital for delivery. The woman was not vaccinated for either of the two viruses.

Israeli doctors say while it looks new, the ‘florona’ disease causing variant has been active for some time now and scientists are already collecting data to know its impact on human health. ‘Florona’ is nothing but the occurrence of flu and coronavirus at the same time, say scientists.

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As per World Health Organization (WHO): “It is possible to catch both diseases at the same time. The most effective way to prevent hospitalisation and severe COVID-19 and influenza is vaccination with both vaccines.”

The viruses that cause COVID-19 and the flu propagate in almost the same manner — close contact (within six feet, or two meters); respiratory droplets or aerosols released through talking, sneezing, or coughing result in spread of the infection. These droplets can be inhaled via mouth or nose and thus spread the infection. The two infections spread on touching surface with one of the viruses on it and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eyes.

Also read: To fight Omicron threat, Israel offers 4th vaccination shot for people over 60

Mayoclinic.org said that the coronavirus and influenza flu virus can get together and cause serious complications like pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, organ failure, heart attacks, heart or brain inflammation, stroke, and even death.

Meanwhile looking at the rising Omicron cases, Israel’s health department has started administering vaccine booster doses to immuno-suppressed people.

Both COVID and flu have common symptoms like cough and cold, fever, runny nose. The difference, however, appears when the samples are tested, said Dr P Venkat, Internal Medicine, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.

Dr Venkat told The Indian Express: “A PCR test is done for flu where we test for the RNA (or Ribonucleic acid which is essential for any form of life) of the virus. For both the viruses, different PCR tests are done. The genotypes of both viruses are different. It can be differentiated only by lab tests.”

Complete vaccination for both influenza and COVID is a must to prevent ‘florona’ besides, of course, maintaining social distancing norms, according to WHO recommendations.

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