First Cases of Flurona Detected in NayaritBy Alfonso Núñez | Wed, 01/12/2022 - 10:09
As the highly contagious Omicron variant rapidly spreads throughout Mexico and causes a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, the first cases of flurona have been detected in the country, leading health experts to call for extreme caution. Flurona refers to a simultaneous infection of SARS-CoV-2 and the influenza virus.
Nayarit’s Ministry of Health confirmed the first identified case of flurona in a woman of 28 years of age on Sunday. The state’s Minister of Health José Francis Munguía said that the health sector will be taking maximum precautions to ensure that the case does lead to a massive spread as COVID-19 cases rise during the influenza season.
Nayarit suspended in-person classes for the next 12 days and cancelled public gatherings to avoid a mass contagion of flurona that would heavily hit the local economy, said Munguía. Two additional cases have been reported in the country since.
The first documented case of flurona was observed in a pregnant woman in Israel. While some health experts were wary of a simultaneous infection of the two viruses since last year, no instances had been detected until recently. One of the reasons behind the absence of cases, was the less severe flu seasons that occurred when safety regulations to stop SARS-CoV-2 contained the spread of many other viruses. Despite medical experts preparing for the arrival of particularly severe flu seasons worldwide, lowered safety regulations and the massive spread of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant have combined to result in the emergence of flurona.
Health experts are unsure of the severity of flurona but are warning for caution to stop its spread. In particular, those who have been predisposed to pneumonia or are more likely to be hospitalized should take precautions, says William Schaffner, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Vanderbilt University.
Influenza spreads in less concrete time periods but throughout known cycles across different countries. Because of this, during the duration of “flu season” and as cases begin to rise, the best protective action continues to be vaccination against both COVID-19 and influenza.
“As I have been out promoting the flu shot, there is a general finding of people forgetting about flu because they’re so concentrated on COVID-19, and there is also real vaccine fatigue, which is understandable… Vaccinated people have significantly mild[er] symptoms compared to those who are not vaccinated. That will be the same with the flu,” Schaffner said.