California’s Solano County confirmed the first case of flu and COVID-19 co-infection on Thursday. According to a report by local news station ABC7, the resident who tested positive for COVID-19 is under the age of 65.
With flu season approaching, health officials have been warning of a “twindemic,” in which people become infected with both COVID-19 and the flu, and have been urging people to get their flu vaccines as soon as possible.
"With the likelihood of both COVID-19 and seasonal flu activity this winter, contracting either disease may weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to the other disease," Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela T. Matyas told the outlet.
"Getting a flu vaccine this year is more important than ever, and flu vaccines are the best way to protect yourself, your family, and the community from becoming seriously ill with the flu.”
“Vaccination not only reduces the risk of catching the flu, it also reduces the chance that you'll be hospitalized. In other words, the flu vaccine will provide some protection and reduce your chances of needing to be hospitalized if you do get sick,” Matyas added.
According to Matyas, flu and COVID-19 symptoms can present themselves in very similar ways.
"It is 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," she explained.
Earlier this week, Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Tennessee, reported that it had admitted its first patient battling the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously.
“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 told News 2, WKRN.com reported.
Last week, public health officials in Virginia’s Page County revealed that the county is managing two cases of COVID-19 and influenza co-infection.
Robert Redfield, director of the CDC has been warning since August that the nation is heading for “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had,” MarketWatch reported.
“We’re going to have COVID in the fall, and we’re going to have flu in the fall. And either one of those by themselves can stress certain hospital systems,” Redfield warned at the time.
According to the CDC, it can be hard to differentiate between the flu and COVID-19 as they both exhibit similar symptoms; however, the health agency notes that COVID-19 appears to spread more easily than the flu.
People infected with COVID-19 may also take longer to show symptoms and are likely to stay contagious longer than those infected with the flu. “Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu,” the CDC underscores.