Here’s what experts want you to know about COVID and flu season

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 8:30 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A possible “twin-demic”, where both COVID and flu cases would flood our hospitals, was a big concern when COVID first started to spread.

Georgia and South Carolina are both in the “moderate” range of flu activity. We wanted to check in and see if those “twin-demic” concerns ever panned out.

“This year we’re finding some cases, but not as many as there were two years ago,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, a Professor of Infectious Diseases at MCG.

Local experts tell us a “twin-demic” worthy spread of flu thankfully never hit hospital beds. In fact, Georgia Department of Public Health data shows area hospitalizations from the flu are drastically down compared to the 2018-2019 flu season. Those numbers dropped from 840 back then, to just 102 this season.

There are still cases in the community though, especially as temps and humidity stay low.

AU tells us it’s not too late to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already. They say it does take a few weeks for your body to really get the full benefit, but they expect to see flu cases pop up through at least the month of March.

“The flu virus is very sensitive to changes in humidity. So that the virus will stay in the air longer and travel farther when the humidity drops,” said MacArthur.

Knowing whether you have the flu or COVID can be kind of hard to figure out on your own. The two share many of the same symptoms. Here’s the symptoms they typically have in common according to the CDC:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19

“But what we’re seeing, especially with omicron, especially in younger individuals are milder symptoms. Sinus congestion, sore throat, some elevation in temperature, but not as much as influenza,” he said.

We’re told the best way to know which one you have is just to head out and get a test.

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