What to know about COVID-19 during Influenza season

Is it cold, flu or COVID? How you can tell the difference
Is it cold, flu or COVID? How you can tell the difference(WRDW)
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 6:04 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations reach an all-time high in Wisconsin, health care professionals are also keeping an eye on another virus typical for this time of year.

Advocate Aurora Health is currently treating someone with a co-infection suffering from the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

“The problem with viruses is they are not discriminating, just because somebody has already taken up home in somebody’s nose doesn’t mean there isn’t space for a second or third virus,” said Dr. James Conrad, Medical Director for Immunization Program for U.W.-Health.

Right now, the CDC reports Wisconsin is in the low range for flu infections, but doctors say it’s only a matter of time until they see more cases.

“We are on the upward trajectory, and we expect probably a growing number of cases, and this is particularly because we’re really behind influenza vaccines compared to the last few years,” said Dr. Brad Burmeister, emergency medicine physician at Bellin Health.

On Tuesday, doctors aren’t worried about a “twindemic” because COVID remains the biggest threat. It’s the reason why health officials are testing first for COVID when someone has symptoms that also could be the flu.

“We’re just in a very difficult time in health care right now, where ideally, we’d be testing for everything all the time and our infrastructure would be there and we’d be able to get treatments out the door. But unfortunately, we’ve waited two years for testing infrastructure to improve and it just hasn’t improved to a level it needs to be right now so we are limited in what we can do,” Dr. Ashok Rai, president and CEO of Prevea Health.

Dr. Conway said people shouldn’t be too concerned with COVID tests taking priority, because there are other labs keeping tabs on the flu.

“They get away with doing that because there are others in the background, especially at the state lab, that are sort of doing this surveillance for all of us. Just so clinicians sort of have an idea of what’s out there because you know, what you don’t want is you don’t want people wasting money on flu tests in August when there’s no flu around,” said Dr. Conway.

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