Australians are urged to be vigilant for so-called “flurona” infections. A leading doctor has dispelled some common misconceptions.

Flurona made headlines earlier this month after a Victorian woman died after being diagnosed with both COVID and the flu.

Experts say there’s a heightened possibility people could be infected simultaneously as we enter the colder months.

Dr Nirvana Luckraj, the Chief Medical Officer at national public health information service Healthdirect, says flurona was commonly misconceived as a new virus.

In reality, she said, it’s a “non-medical term” that means someone has flu and COVID at the same time.

“With COVID continuing to circulate in the community and cases still high in some states, combined with the predicted flu season we are expecting now that restrictions have eased, it’s quite possible that a person could have flu and COVID at the same time,” she said.

“It’s something we want to prevent as these are both potentially severe illnesses and combined would be particularly serious.”

Vaccination is the key to avoiding serious illness, she said, and to not expect your COVID jabs to have any impact on the flu.

“The flu vaccine is specifically designed for flu virus and COVID vaccines for COVID – they don’t protect against each other so it’s important to get both vaccines for best prevention this winter.

“Vaccines are one of the most important and simple measures we can take to keep ourselves, our families and communities healthy.”

Cases of the flu have been jumping across Australia, with COVID cases also remaining stubbornly high. In New South Wales alone, there were 2000 cases of the flu reported in the week ending May the 7th, almost doubling from the week earlier.

How do you know if you have the flu, COVID, or both?

Dr Luckraj said there were many similarities, given they’re both contagious respiratory diseases.

However, COVID appears to be more contagious.

“You really can’t tell or self-diagnose by just symptoms alone, so it’s important to get tested for COVID to know for sure,” she said.

“If you are otherwise fit and healthy, there is usually no need to see a doctor if you have flu-like symptoms.

“However, if you have more severe symptoms such as breathing difficulties, an intense headache, are unable to keep down fluids or if you’re just concerned you should speak to your doctor or call Healthdirect to speak to a registered nurse who can help advise next steps.”

Image: Getty Images

This article first appeared on OverSixty.