November 2, 2020 -- Following national public health warnings about a possible “twindemic,” reports are surfacing of patients testing positive for both the coronavirus and influenza.
The Solano County, CA, government said in a news release that a patient under 65 tested positive for both conditions. This is the first dual diagnosis for the county in the Bay Area.
Solano County Health Officer Bela T. Matyas, MD, said the conditions share some symptoms.
“Symptoms of the flu can be like early symptoms of COVID-19, meaning people with flu symptoms may require a COVID-19 test and need to stay home from work and isolate while awaiting their results,” Matyas said.
“It is also important to note that flu is not COVID-19, which is caused by a different virus, and that the flu is not the same as the common cold, which is also caused by different viruses,” he said.
In Tennessee, the person with a double diagnosis was a patient at Maury Regional Medical Center south of Nashville, reported TV station WKRN.
“When you get influenza, which is a respiratory illness, and you get COVID, which also impacts the respiratory tract, it only makes sense that those individuals are going to have a serious respiratory component with shortness of breath, potential for respiratory failure is very high in co-infection,” Maury Regional Health Chief Medical Officer Martin Chaney, MD, said.
Health officials generally say the coronavirus is about 10 times deadlier than the flu.
Both health officials urged people to get flu shots as a protection.
"Vaccination not only reduces the risk of catching the flu, it also reduces the chance that you’ll be hospitalized,” Matyas said. “In other words, the flu vaccine will provide some protection and reduce your chances of needing to be hospitalized if you do get sick.”
In an interview with WebMD earlier this year, CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, said the United States could be facing the “worst fall” that “we’ve ever had” because of the overlap between the COVID-19 pandemic and flu season.
Other health authorities said they hoped measures designed to curb the coronavirus would help prevent the spread of the flu.
Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said last month that the Southern Hemisphere has had a very light flu season, probably because measures to curb the coronavirus, such as social distancing and mask-wearing, have limited the spread of the flu.