Local respiratory disease expert on ‘flurona’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — With so many illnesses going around, the omicron variant leading the way, it can be difficult to distinguish between COVID-19 and the flu. But, the peak of flu season is right around the corner, and after a quiet year in 2020, we touched base with infectious disease experts to find out what we can expect as we head into February.

According to the state’s flu tracker, Monroe County had 139 cases in the most recent week reported, the highest of any Upstate county. Doctors at the University of Rochester, say last year, coronavirus filled the void, so what does that mean for 2022, and is Flurona a real thing?

"There was so much SARS COVID that there wasn’t really any patients to compete with for the flu to infect which is something we haven’t ever observed in modern medicine,” said U of R respiratory disease expert Dr. Angela Branche.

Branche said, flu cases are back this year, but they aren’t seeing as many cases as you’d think.

"What’s different about this than prior pre-pandemic flu seasons is that we’re seeing about a third the number of cases we might normally see, in a normal flu season so I think the mitigation strategies against the pandemic still in place are keeping them down,” Branche added.

As for that one-two punch we’ve heard about, Branche said "flurona" is possible, but they aren’t seeing too many co-infections.

"We’re not seeing influenza with other things, at least not in adults, and so it’s something we’re watching and tracking very closely,” Branche said.

When it comes to protection, experts say, get the vaccine for both viruses, and that there is no specific time frame as to when. You could even get them both at the same time.