Caution: Flu or Coronavirus?

The common symptoms of both flu and coronavirus are confusing for patients. How to distinguish one deadly disease from another? What the experts say about it.

Seasonal influenza has arrived in our country at a critical time, along with a new outbreak of Omicron 2 coronavirus cases, as well as the lifting of austerity measures and “relaxation of citizens”.

Experts warn that this is a potentially dangerous “mixture” of viruses circulating in the community, once again threatening the health care system.

In light of these developments, members of the scientific community are on high alert, urging citizens – with a focus on the elderly and vulnerable groups – get your seasonal flu shot now. At the same time, they repeat the benefits of triple vaccination against Covid-19 at every opportunity.

These warnings stem from the empirical experience of physicians, mostly primary care workers, that the presence of the influenza virus is more dynamic than recent EODY data reflect.

In particular, a recent report states that three positive samples for the influenza A virus were detected from February 28 to March 6. Evangelos Frangoulis, deputy chief physician of ΕΔΟΕΑΠ, says: “These are cases of influenza syndrome in patients with a negative diagnosis for coronavirus (that is, a test for Covid -19). At the same time, there is an increase in the detection of influenza with the help of appropriate rapid tests.”

However, as he explains, not all cases are recorded in the surveillance network, resulting in influenza recurrence phenomenon appears to be underestimated. Meanwhile, the very similar symptoms caused by a pandemic virus and influenza confuse patients.

As Mr. Frangulis acknowledges, they are almost impossible to distinguishif patients do not pass a diagnostic test because both are respiratory infections, the common symptoms of which are high fever, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, runny nose and fatigue.

“For this reason, it is important that those who have not been vaccinated against influenza, especially vulnerable populations, do so immediately. In addition, it is equally important to observe personal protective measures, such as wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding closed, poorly ventilated areas, as they contribute to the spread of both infections.

It is noted that the recommendation for influenza vaccination remains in place, although this year it was found to provide lower protection than in previous years.

In particular, just last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published information after studying data from more than 3,600 people in seven US states, showing that the effectiveness of the drug is only 16%. The recommendations are similar abroad, given that the return of influenza is not only a Greek phenomenon. In the US, the incidence of influenza increased in early February. According to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), the upward trend is also observed in Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Turkey and the UK (mainly in Scotland).

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