Which Flu Symptoms Differ From COVID-19?
On a U.S. CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity call, influenza surveillance data reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from three Southern Hemisphere countries indicated very low influenza activity from June through August 2020.
The WHO confirmed on September 14, 2020, ‘Globally, influenza activity was reported at lower levels than expected for this time of the year. In the temperate zones of the Southern Hemisphere, the influenza season has not started.’
The CDC researchers said September 17, 2020, ‘that data from Australia, Chile, and South Africa during these months comprise the typical Southern Hemisphere influenza season.’
To better understand why this dramatic change has occurred in 2020, the CDC team of Angela Campbell, M.D., and Timothy Uyeki, M.D. stated ‘The low influenza activity observed in the Southern Hemisphere might reflect the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions implemented to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.’
‘However, it is not possible to predict influenza activity or the severity of the upcoming influenza season in the USA with the potential for co-circulation of influenza viruses and SARS-CoV-2.’
‘While (flu shots) vaccination remains the best way to prevent influenza, antiviral medications are an essential adjunct to vaccination—especially for treating outpatients with suspected or confirmed influenza, in persons at high risk for influenza complications, in those with progressive disease, and hospitalized influenza patients.’
In addition, CDC officials reminded clinicians that not only do influenza and COVID-19 have overlapping signs and symptoms, but co-infection with both has been previously documented.
Since ‘COVID-19 is a new disease and scientists are still learning how it spreads. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19, or infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, can spread the illness to others,’ says the CDC.
"The only difference is the loss of smell and loss of taste ... [which] has not been reported with influenza virus infection," said Dr. Uyeki.
On April 25, 2020, the CDC announced the expansion of the COVID-19 disease symptom list to include fever, cough, breathing difficulty, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and a new diagnosis, loss of taste or smell.
To assist healthcare providers distinguish between the flu and COVID-19, several diagnostic tests have been created by innovative lab firms, such as LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics.
According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker data, there have been over 100 million diagnostic tests, excluding antibody, and antigen tests, performed in the USA to confirm if a person has a SARS-CoV-2 infection during 2020.
An updated list of influenza vaccines authorized for the 2020-2021 flu season is published by PrecisionVaccinations.
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