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ST. LOUIS – In the midst of a new surge in COVID cases, another concern is taking the spotlight.

It’s being called flurona. Despite the very catchy name, it’s a term for when a person tests positive for the flu and the corona virus at the same time. Both are common, so doctors say it’s not unexpected that some people would be infected simultaneously.

Flurona is not a new disease, and it’s not a new variant of COVID. Doctors said the flu virus and COVID-19 are from two different virus families. Although uncommon, last year’s flu season also saw a handful of cases of flu and COVID in the same person at the same time.

Infectious disease experts say being infected with both at the same time is obviously not good, but there’s no clear indication that this is a particularly bad combination. One way to reduce your risk of becoming severely ill with either virus is to get vaccinated, wear a mask in crowded spaces, and wash your hands often. Since both the flu and COVID are respiratory diseases, they can cause similar symptoms like a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache, and fatigue, according to the World Health Organization. Both are spread through droplets and aerosols when an infected person breaths, speaks, coughs or sneezes. Doctors go on to say because it’s winter and cold, more people are indoors, which brings a higher risk of upper respiratory infections. The most at-risk people are those with breathing issues, the elderly, and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

There is not enough data to suggest if rates of hospitalization are higher for those infected with both the flu and COVID compared to if someone just had one of the viruses. Last year’s flu season was mild, doctors are hoping for the same this year, but are bracing for more cases as area hospitals are already overwhelmed with outbreaks of the omicron variant.