‘Twindemic’ likely on the horizon

COVID-19 cases are on the rise and flu season quickly approaching.
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 10:50 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Normally, receiving an announcement of twins is an exciting moment. But when it comes to what doctors are calling a ‘twindemic,’ that’s not the case.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise and flu season quickly approaching, medical experts like Dr. Peter Gulick are worried about a double dose of trouble and calling the potential threat a ‘twindemic’.

“Now that we’re getting to the cold season influenza is going to start to become more and more prevalent,” Gulick said. “We’ve already got COVID-19 out there, so how are these two viruses going to interrelate as far as causing further problems?”

Ingham County Health Official Linda Vail says last year saw a record low number of flu cases. She credits a high number of flu vaccinations and mask-wearing with stifling the spread.

However, since the CDC lifted masking recommendations earlier this year, she believes this flu season will look a lot different.

“The CDC said in May, ‘You don’t have to wear masks anymore.’ That pretty much was a lid you couldn’t get back on the jar,” Vail said. “The compliance with masks, the lack of mask orders, is probably going to put us in a position where we will see more of a flu season that we did last year for sure.”

One of the trickiest parts is going to be figuring out which one an individual has, which is something only testing can determine.

“We have to understand that both viruses will present very similar complaints,” Gulick said. “So, patients with respiratory symptoms, sore throat, muscle aches, and pains, both of those viruses can do very similar symptoms. It’s going to be hard to distinguish one over the other.”

Vail and Gulick recommend getting both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines, as well as closely monitoring those who are immunocompromised to avoid any serious illness.

Vail says, even if somebody believes their symptoms resemble that of the flu, they’re encouraged to get a COVID-19 test to be sure.

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