NORRISTOWN, PA – Montgomery County Office of Public Health
today announced two residents have died from a co-infection of COVID-19 and Influenza (flu). Ages 77 and 89 respectively, both residents were symptomatic and hospitalized before their passing.
Co-infections of COVID-19 and flu can occur in the cold months of the year as the seasonal flu period begins. COVID-19 co-infections with other respiratory pathogens including flu may complicate the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of COVID-19. These co-infections may increase the disease symptoms and mortality rate.
Both COVID-19 and flu are transmitted through close contact, respiratory droplets, and can cause a wide range of asymptomatic or mild to severe disease such as pneumonia, loss of taste and smell, and death. Individuals experiencing flu- or COVID-like symptoms should get tested to determine what virus is causing their illness or if they may be experiencing a co-infection. This can inform health care provider guidance for care and treatment.
“Flu activity was low last year, so co-infections were relatively rare. We are still in the first half of flu season now, and there is still time to benefit from flu vaccination this season,” said Christina Miller, Administrator for the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. “To be fully protected, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and the flu.”
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identifies that flu is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by flu viruses, which infects the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and sometimes leads to death. Signs and symptoms of flu may occur suddenly. Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and muscle/body aches.
Flu is transmitted by tiny droplets through coughing, sneezing, and even talking with people who have the flu. People can pass flu to someone else even before they know they are sick. Flu is contagious the day before start of symptoms and up to seven days after becoming sick, but most commonly during the first three to four days after symptoms start.
CDC recommends the public “Take 3 Actions to Fight the Flu:”
- Take time to get your flu vaccine,
- Take everyday prevention actions to stop the spread of germs, and
- Take flu antiviral drugs if your health care provider prescribes them.
Getting your flu vaccine every year is the single best way to protect adults and children. The CDC recommends that children 6 months of age or older get vaccinated against the flu. For children who are younger than 6 months, it is recommended that people who are around the child get vaccinated. CDC recommends people get vaccinated for flu by the end of October. However, it still important to get the vaccine now if you are not currently vaccinated.
CDC’s second recommendation is to take precautions to stop the spread of germs every day. This includes avoiding close contact with people who are sick. People should also avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth because this is the easiest way for germs to enter the body. Lastly, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs including flu.
Taking antivirals as prescribed by a doctor is the last recommendation by CDC. Antivirals can make illness milder and shorten the time people may feel sick. Antivirals can also reduce the risk of complications and can be the difference between mild illness and severe illness.
GETTING A FLU SHOT
Free flu vaccines are available at many locations, including Montgomery County Vaccination Clinics, health care provider offices, and pharmacies.
To make a flu shot appointment at a Montgomery County-run Vaccination Clinic, visit www.montcopa.org/Flu
or call (610) 278-5117. The County has locations in Willow Grove, King of Prussia, Norristown, and Pottstown. Residents can also visit www.vaccines.gov
for a full list of area clinics offering the flu vaccine.
Montgomery County residents can get their flu shot at the same time as their COVID-19 vaccine dose or booster shot, for more information visit www.montcopa.org/Flu.
As of January 15, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that flu activity remains elevated but declined slightly since the previous week. While flu activity is difficult to predict, it is expected to continue for several more weeks.
As of January 21, 2022, for the current 2021-2022 flu season, Pennsylvania flu-like illness activity is low. To date, Montgomery County has had a total of 1,359 cases of flu. Out of those reported, 23 individuals were hospitalized and two have died from flu which includes those co-infected individuals with COVID-19 and flu.