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Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF JAN. 10, 2022

Double risk: 'Flurona' describes a new twist – overlapping cases of flu and coronavirus

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1.gifFind a photo or coverage of a crowded activity or setting where either disease could spread.

2.gifQuote a doctor or other health professional from any Covid article. Summarize your reaction.

3.gifShare two facts from another health or medical article.

Here's a new twist in the global coronavirus pandemic approaching its third year: Some people are testing positive for both Covid and influenza at the same time – a combination nicknamed "flurona." Don't let that clever label mislead –the viruses haven’t merged to create a new illness. They remain separate infections that are hard to tell apart without medical tests. "It certainly can be more severe when you're fighting a double infection, but the symptoms are so similar," says Dr. Mark Loafman of the Cook County Health agency in Chicago.

Those who believe their fever, fatigue, cough and nasal congestion might be a regular cold should get a Covid test at a clinic, pharmacy or lab, doctors say – especially as cases of the Omicron variant surge nationwide. "If you think it's a cold, if you think it's the flu, it's probably Covid," says Chicago's health commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady. "Stay home if you're not feeling well." The double-whammy kept Houston high schooler Alec Zierlein, 17, isolated at home recently. He had been vaccinated against Covid, but not the flu, when he had a mild case of both ailments at Christmas time. "I'm not a huge fan of shots in general,” he told a local TV station. "But if I had gone back, I definitely would have taken that flu shot. It wasn't the best Christmas Day, having to stay in my room."

Just as you can get both viruses at the same time, you can also get both vaccines together. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says it’s safe to get a flu and Covid-19 shot or booster during one visit. Only about 43% of children up to age 17 were vaccinated for the flu as of early December, the CDC says. While both vaccines may not prevent infection, they can help prevent serious illness from either virus.

Doctor says: "I expect to see plenty of co-infections [flu and Covid] going forward, but I don't see anything that suggests it makes Covid infections worse." – Dr. Frank Esper, Cleveland Clinic Children's Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Another physician adds: "I don't think we should be scared. We know how to take care of both of these illnesses." – Dr. Janak Patel, University of Texas Medical Branch

Mask up for safety: Both viruses are transmitted through coughing, sneezing, speaking, singing or breathing — which is why masking is widely encouraged.

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2022

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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

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