Double infection by Covid and flu: can you be contaminated by both viruses at the same time?

The flu is making a comeback, while the Covid figures are rising sharply. While these two viruses have nothing in common apart from similar symptoms, can you get them at the same time?

Contracting Covid and the flu at the same time, a stroke of bad luck that is still possible in this period of strong epidemic recovery, in relation to these two viruses.

L’the WHO had confirmed last September I was “possible to get both diseases at the same time”. Eight cases of these two joint infections have been identified in France, reports Le Parisien. In January, an Israeli case was reported as the first case of “flurona”, the contraction of “flu”, flu in English and corona, by coronavirus.

Co-infection facilitated by Omicron?

If this flurone case had caused a stir, it should not be seen as the emergence of a new threat. Indeed, Liberation interviewed Alexandre Bleibtreu, infectologist at the department of infectious and tropical diseases of the Pitié Salpêtrière hospital on this topic. He reminds that it is “possible to be infected by two pathogens at the same time, either two viruses or a virus and a bacteria.”

According to him, in addition, the Israeli case reported in January was not the first since he claims to have had one in his hospital, “from the first wave of Covid.”

Instead, the emergence of Omicron could favor these cases of co-infection, because it would more easily block what scientists call “viral interference”, a natural immune response that occurs when infected with a virus. “We have the impression that omicron is able to quench this interference function quite significantly,” said Bruno Lina, professor of virology.

Instead, the studies cited by the Parisian report that cases of co-infection do not appear to lead to an increased risk of severe disease.

Risk of confusing the two diseases

Still, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish the flu and Covid, because although they are actually two different viruses, their symptoms are similar, as detailed on the health insurance site. Influenza is characterized by “high fever, chills, cough, joint and muscle pain, fatigue”and the main symptoms of Covid are fever, respiratory symptoms, body aches, headaches, and unusual tiredness, not to mention possible loss of taste and smell.

The symptoms are so similar that Public Health France recalls in its latest epidemiological bulletin that “certain indicators used for influenza surveillance are syndromic and therefore not based on biological confirmation of influenza infection. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that some of the cases of influenza-like illness reported by our influenza surveillance are due to Covid-19 and not influenza.“.

If you have symptoms, the best option to find out which virus has infected you is to get tested. Given the joint spread of the flu and Covid at the moment, many pharmacies also offer vaccination against both viruses.

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