First Flurona Case Reported in LA As Omicron Variant Drives COVID Case Surge

A Los Angeles County COVID-19 testing site has detected its first case of flurona, a coinfection of influenza and COVID-19, as Omicron drives a surge in COVID-19 infections across the United States.

Doctors have been concerned about the possibility of a "twindemic" of these two respiratory viruses since two young pregnant women in Israel tested positive for both.

Though the first official case of the coinfection was reported in Israel in late December, reports of people suffering from flu and coronavirus in the United States date back as far as 2020, according to the Times of Israel.

This confirmed case of flurona in LA was detected on January 1 and involves an unvaccinated teenager returning from a vacation in Mexico who tested positive for both viruses at a testing site near the Getty Center in Brentwood, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Chief operating officer of 911 COVID Testing, Steve Farzam, said: "This is the first one that we're aware of. In and of itself, it's not overly concerning; however, it is concerning and can be problematic for someone who has pre-existing medical conditions, anyone who is immunocompromised."

The possibility of a person developing a coinfection of flurona has increased due to rising cases of flu and due to the surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the spread of the Omicron variant.

In LA, according to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker, COVID-19 infections have increased by 515 percent over the past two weeks. As of January 5, the state was reporting over 22,000 cases per day.

The New York Times described Los Angeles County as "an extremely high risk for unvaccinated people."

On its website, the Who Health Organization (WHO) offers advice on how to avoid infection with both respiratory viruses and how to increase the likelihood the symptoms are mild if a person is infected.

It writes: "The most effective way to prevent hospitalization and severe COVID-19 and influenza is vaccination with both vaccines.

"Continue to follow prevention measures, such as maintaining at least a one-meter distance from others, wearing a well-fitted mask when keeping your distance is not possible, avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated places and settings, opening windows and doors to keep rooms well ventilated, and cleaning your hands frequently."

Chief Medical officer of Cedars-Sinai Medical Network, Caroline Goldzweig, offered advice on how to cope with a mild COVID-19 infection at home. She said: "If you're someone who is generally pretty healthy you can likely manage a COVID illness by yourself at home.

"That would mean just managing your symptoms, there's not a medication that you need if you're not a high risk of being hospitalized."

Goldzweig advises taking Tylenol for muscle aches or for mild fevers, an over-the-counter cold medication. She also advises plenty of fluids, rest, and listening to your body.

Commenting on the surge in breakthrough infections, COVID-19 cases involving the fully vaccinated, Goldzweig added: "The vaccines were never designed to keep us from getting COVID. What they are doing is preventing us from getting really sick from COVID and needing to be hospitalized and dying from COVID.

"What we know now is that this Omicron variant seems to get around the vaccines. We also know that immunity starts to wane, it starts to decrease over time in pretty much everyone, and that's why the booster is important to sort of 'rev' your immune system back up and give you protection from these newer variants."

In California, 67 percent of the population is currently fully vaccinated. This is above the average for the rate of vaccination across the U.S, which is currently 62 percent.

COVID Testing
A stock image of a woman receiving a COVID test. A teenager in LA has tested positive for flu and COVID, the first official case of "flurona" in the state. Alessandro Biascioli/Getty