Doctors say controlling the spread of the flu will be even more important during the coronavirus pandemic to keep from overwhelming the health care system.
COVID-19 can show unique symptoms like a lost sense of taste, but other symptoms like aches, fever, and difficulty breathing are the same as the flu. Dr. Katie Imborek is a family medicine physician with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
“Everyone who has symptoms of influenza may have COVID,” she says, “and everyone that has symptoms of influenza should be tested for COVID.” Imborek says everyone over six-months-old should get the flu shot. It does not protect against COVID-19, but she says if hospitals are treating fewer cases of the flu, there will be more resources to treat severe cases of the coronavirus.
Dr. Ravi Vemuri , an infectious disease specialist at Mercy One in Des Moines, says testing will be key to making a diagnosis, especially since people can be infected with both at the same time. “It’s probably not that common, but they can,” Dr. Vemuri says, “and now that we have sustained community transmission of COVID-19, we really need to test for both.”
Since there’s no coronavirus vaccine, Vemuri says it’s even more important to get a flu shot. He says wearing masks and physical distancing are still the best protection against the coronavirus — and they work for the flu, too.
(By Grant Gerlock, Iowa Public Radio)