/Flurona death in Australia: Health experts warning to Aussies as woman dies in Victoria after contracting influenza and COVID-19 | 7NEWS

Flurona death in Australia: Health experts warning to Aussies as woman dies in Victoria after contracting influenza and COVID-19 | 7NEWS

Health experts are warning of the dangerous potential risks of contracting both the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously, after an elderly woman in Victoria died from what has been dubbed ‘flurona’.

As Australian’s brace for colder months, experts are warning this flu season could be one of the worst we’ve seen due to a combination of risk factors.

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More than a dozen Aussies have been infected with both diseases simultaneously this year.

Dr Paul Griffin, Infectious Diseases Expert at the University of Queensland, told vaccination rates for influenza are currently lower than usual.

“This flu season is predicted to be quite bad and vaccination rates for the flu are lower than usual,” he said.

“People are getting a negative COVID test and thinking they are fine, but still spreading the flu.”

Flurona is a term coined to describe the condition of being infected with COVID-19 and the flu simultaneously.

Nadav Davidovitch, director of the School of Public Health at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, told CNN that because “there is now both very high influenza activity and very high COVID-19 activity, there is the risk that someone will be infected with both”.

Lockdowns and mask wearing helped limit the spread of the flu earlier on in the pandemic, but as society opens up, cases are expected to rise.

“It’s interesting that after you have a year with a very, very low or not at all influenza activity, the next year because people were less exposed, it makes them more vulnerable,” Davidovitch said.

He added that for those without underlying health conditions who have been vaccinated for both influenza and COVID-19, these viruses are unlikely to have a “major effect on the individual”.

A recent study in the UK also found flurona doubled the risk of death from either virus.

Paul Griffin echoed this sentiment, stating flurona is “quite significant”.

“We need people to be concerned enough about this to go and get vaccinated,” he said.

“Flurona is quite significant, and we know it greatly increases the chance of all the serious outcomes from either infection.

“So you’re much more likely to end up in hospital, and much more likely to have those serious consequences.”

Paul added our population may be more susceptible to the flu, given we have had less exposure to it over recent years due to COVID-19 restrictions in place.

“We know the flu is back, and we know our measures for COVID-19 kept the flu away, we’ve appropriately relaxed those measures and so the flu has returned,” he said.

“And even if you don’t get both together, because our population is very susceptible, the consequences of the flu this year are going to be very significant.”

Flurona symptoms: How do I know if I have it?

It’s not possible to tell if you have COVID-19, or the flu, or flurona, based on symptoms alone.

Symptoms like fever, cough, chills, sore throat, body aches, congestion, a runny nose, vomiting and diarrhoea are common across all three infections.

And because a rapid antigen test won’t pick up the flu Dr Griffin advised those who are experiencing symptoms or think they may have been exposed to either of these viruses to head to a laboratory for further testing.

“We’ve got a great pathology system in this country,” he said

“And the fact that we’ve now got both of these viruses circulating really highlights the importance of laboratory-based PCR testing.

“Our labs can test for both flu and coronavirus, as well as a number of other respiratory viruses, on the same specimen.

“So this is where we’re going to have to deviate away from the rapid antigen testing and rely on those laboratories.”

– With CNN