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7 things to know about COVID-19 combined with flu season – KCRA Sacramento

The medical community is concerned COVID-19 combining with the upcoming flu season may challenge hospital capacity. “Yes, absolutely because both are going to present similarly in terms of the respiratory illness,” said Dr. Parimal Bharucha with Mercy San Juan. “Already we are short of beds from COVID itself.”UCSF held a medical briefing on the matter Wednesday discussing the potential impact of flu season and what can happen to patients who have both COVID-19 and the flu.“Both COVID-19 and influenza separately can cause respiratory failure,” Dr. Michael Matthay at UCSF said. “It is quite possible and likely that the two viruses could infect a patient at the same time.”Physicians are recommending people who are able to get the flu vaccine do so, to eliminate one viral threat this season. “There’s all these concerns about COVID-19, all the concerns about health care systems maybe not having capacity,” Dr. Dean Blumberg said. “All we need is one other bad thing to happen—like a bad flu season.”KCRA 3 spoke with Blumberg, who is a pediatric infectious disease doctor at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, about what you should know for the upcoming flu season. You can contract both viruses at the same time“You definitely can get co-infections. So, somebody can get COVID and get another respiratory infection,” Blumberg said. “There is concern having both at once would obviously be overwhelming for the immune system and could lead to worse outcomes.”COVID-19 public health guidelines may reduce flu cases“We’re having some preliminary evidence that all the social distancing that has been put into place and the mask-wearing, closing of schools—all that stuff—that led to decrease transmission of influenza at the end of last season,” Blumberg said. “It just makes sense. It’s logical that if people are social distancing and wearing masks, that not only will that decrease transmission for COVID-19, but it will decrease transmission for other respiratory viruses like influenza.”Influenza and COVID-19 are entirely different viruses“They are different viruses, different mechanisms of action, and so the antivirals we use for influenza don’t work against COVID,” Blumberg explained. “I don’t think that the flu vaccine is going to have the benefit against COVID itself, except that it will keep people healthy. And so, anything to keep people healthy— including in general keeping your immune system healthy, like you’re having a good diet, nutrients and all that, that will help prevent infection and help keep people healthy. But that’s the only thing. There shouldn’t be any cross benefit. The viruses are completely different.” People may confuse flu and COVID-19 symptoms“There can be some confusion because the symptoms overlap,” Blumberg said. “Fever, cough, shortness of breath are the main things you see with COVID. With influenza it’s a real sudden onset. I mean, you know when you get sick with influenza. It’s not like I started feeling lousy yesterday. It’s like at 3 o’clock, that’s when I got sick. And it’s a sudden onset of fever, muscle aches, headache, et cetera, that occurs with influenza. So, you can sort of differentiate it that way. As opposed to the more gradual onset that you get with COVID and other respiratory viruses—such as the common cold.”Asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic differs between the two viruses“You can have asymptomatic infection with influenza just like you can with COVID. It’s not common. It’s estimated 40% of people with COVID have asymptomatic infection. With influenza it’s felt to be much lower than that,” Blumberg said. “With influenza it’s felt that people are most infectious once they have symptoms. It doesn’t seem like that with COVID. Half of the transmission with COVID occurs before people become symptomatic.”The body responds differently to COVID-19 and influenza“They are different. With influenza it’s mostly the acute infection and the virus that’s replicating and damaging the lungs,” Blumberg said. “With COVID that’s part of the story. But one of the main issues is that it can cause ARDS—acute respiratory distress syndrome—where the body’s own immune response to infection can overwhelm the lungs and actually damage the lungs as a byproduct of trying to fight off the virus.”There are still unknowns “One of the key issues is—does having influenza predispose you to having COVID? Does it weaken your defenses so that you will be more susceptible to getting COVID? And vice versa,” Blumberg explained. “And getting both at once. Is that synergistic and does that result in a much worse, more severe illness? We just don’t know.”

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

The medical community is concerned COVID-19 combining with the upcoming flu season may challenge hospital capacity.

“Yes, absolutely because both are going to present similarly in terms of the respiratory illness,” said Dr. Parimal Bharucha with Mercy San Juan. “Already we are short of beds from COVID itself.”

COVID-19 INFLUENZA

UCSF held a medical briefing on the matter Wednesday discussing the potential impact of flu season and what can happen to patients who have both COVID-19 and the flu.

“Both COVID-19 and influenza separately can cause respiratory failure,” Dr. Michael Matthay at UCSF said. “It is quite possible and likely that the two viruses could infect a patient at the same time.”

Physicians are recommending people who are able to get the flu vaccine do so, to eliminate one viral threat this season.

“There’s all these concerns about COVID-19, all the concerns about health care systems maybe not having capacity,” Dr. Dean Blumberg said. “All we need is one other bad thing to happen—like a bad flu season.”

KCRA 3 spoke with Blumberg, who is a pediatric infectious disease doctor at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, about what you should know for the upcoming flu season.

You can contract both viruses at the same time

    “You definitely can get co-infections. So, somebody can get COVID and get another respiratory infection,” Blumberg said. “There is concern having both at once would obviously be overwhelming for the immune system and could lead to worse outcomes.”

    COVID-19 public health guidelines may reduce flu cases

      “We’re having some preliminary evidence that all the social distancing that has been put into place and the mask-wearing, closing of schools—all that stuff—that led to decrease transmission of influenza at the end of last season,” Blumberg said. “It just makes sense. It’s logical that if people are social distancing and wearing masks, that not only will that decrease transmission for COVID-19, but it will decrease transmission for other respiratory viruses like influenza.”

      Influenza and COVID-19 are entirely different viruses

        “They are different viruses, different mechanisms of action, and so the antivirals we use for influenza don’t work against COVID,” Blumberg explained. “I don’t think that the flu vaccine is going to have the benefit against COVID itself, except that it will keep people healthy. And so, anything to keep people healthy— including in general keeping your immune system healthy, like you’re having a good diet, nutrients and all that, that will help prevent infection and help keep people healthy. But that’s the only thing. There shouldn’t be any cross benefit. The viruses are completely different.”

        People may confuse flu and COVID-19 symptoms

          “There can be some confusion because the symptoms overlap,” Blumberg said. “Fever, cough, shortness of breath are the main things you see with COVID. With influenza it’s a real sudden onset. I mean, you know when you get sick with influenza. It’s not like I started feeling lousy yesterday. It’s like at 3 o’clock, that’s when I got sick. And it’s a sudden onset of fever, muscle aches, headache, et cetera, that occurs with influenza. So, you can sort of differentiate it that way. As opposed to the more gradual onset that you get with COVID and other respiratory viruses—such as the common cold.”

          Asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic differs between the two viruses

            “You can have asymptomatic infection with influenza just like you can with COVID. It’s not common. It’s estimated 40% of people with COVID have asymptomatic infection. With influenza it’s felt to be much lower than that,” Blumberg said. “With influenza it’s felt that people are most infectious once they have symptoms. It doesn’t seem like that with COVID. Half of the transmission with COVID occurs before people become symptomatic.”

            The body responds differently to COVID-19 and influenza

              “They are different. With influenza it’s mostly the acute infection and the virus that’s replicating and damaging the lungs,” Blumberg said. “With COVID that’s part of the story. But one of the main issues is that it can cause ARDS—acute respiratory distress syndrome—where the body’s own immune response to infection can overwhelm the lungs and actually damage the lungs as a byproduct of trying to fight off the virus.”

              There are still unknowns

                “One of the key issues is—does having influenza predispose you to having COVID? Does it weaken your defenses so that you will be more susceptible to getting COVID? And vice versa,” Blumberg explained. “And getting both at once. Is that synergistic and does that result in a much worse, more severe illness? We just don’t know.”

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