‘Flurona’: Israel records its first case of patient with COVID and flu at same time

Unvaccinated pregnant woman infected with both viruses is released from hospital in good condition; health officials say there may be many similar cases

Health care workers take test samples in COVID-19 testing complex in Ma'ale Adumim, on December 30, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Health care workers take test samples in COVID-19 testing complex in Ma'ale Adumim, on December 30, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel confirmed its first case of an individual infected with both the seasonal flu and COVID-19 at the same time, authorities said on Thursday.

The two infections were found in an unvaccinated pregnant woman who had mild symptoms, Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva said.

Some reports suggested this marked the first such dual case in the world, but reports of patients with both flu and COVID-19 surfaced in the US as early as spring 2020.

Israel has seen a spike in flu cases in recent weeks, with close to 2,000 people hospitalized amid fears of a “twindemic” of the two diseases. The term refers to fears large numbers of flu cases and COVID-19 cases could overwhelm hospitals, not that many individuals will be infected with both viruses at once.

Last winter those fears were not realized when COVID-19 restrictions largely stamped out flu cases. However, this year has proven different.

Health officials said it was likely many others have been infected with both viruses, but have not yet been diagnosed, the Ynet news site reported.

The identified case of “flurona,” as some have dubbed it, was relatively mild, according to doctors at Beilinson.

“The disease is the same disease. They’re viral and cause difficulty breathing since both attack the upper respiratory tract,” said Arnon Vizhnitser, the director of the hospital’s gynecology department.

The woman was released Thursday from the hospital, which said she was in good condition.

Still, the Health Ministry was studying the case to see whether a combination of the two viruses caused more severe illness.

The ministry said Wednesday that it had charted a worrying rise in flu cases.

Last week, a 31-year-old pregnant woman died in Jerusalem after contracting the flu. The woman, who was not named, was nine months pregnant when she fell ill two weeks ago.

After she was hospitalized at Hadassah Medical Center, the woman’s son was born by Caesarian section. The child was said to be healthy.

Immediately after the surgery, the woman was put on a ventilator due to respiratory complications, but her condition deteriorated further and the medical team was unable to save her life.

Last month, six-year-old Yosef Naim from Netivot died in his sleep after going to bed with a fever. Health experts believe he was stricken with myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart — from flu complications.

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