Influenza season could be worse than last year, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, leading to what some people are calling a “twindemic.”
But Reditus Laboratories has a just-in-time tool to help with detection of both illnesses.
Reditus is offering a FluV19 Convenience Test Kit, which allows Reditus to test for COVID and Influenza A and B.
“We are proud to offer this test kit as a convenience for children and adults who are symptomatic and aren’t sure whether they have COVID, the flu, neither or both,” said Reditus CEO Dr. Aaron Rossi. The kit allows people to maintain their physical distance from others because they are collecting their own nasal specimen and overnighting the sample to Reditus, rather than going somewhere to be tested.
Results are available to the customer 24 to 48 hours after the lab receives the specimen. The kit, available at no cost with most health insurance plans, may be ordered at www.redituslabs.com/fluv19-convenience-test-kit/.
Each year, 12,000 to 61,000 people die from influenza in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, more than 660,000 people in the United States have died of COVID since early 2020, with 24,400 reported in Illinois.
Because of the effectiveness of masking in preventing virus transmission, and because so many public activities were restricted last year, there were fewer flu-related intensive care unit hospital admissions nationwide and in Illinois during the 2020-2021 flu season.
But medical professionals are concerned that inconsistent mask usage and loosening of COVID mitigations this year could lead to a more severe flu season as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said “Now is the time to get your flu shot. Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time if you haven’t already gotten your COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines are our best protection against severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths due to either flu or COVID-19.”
The COVID vaccine and the flu shot tend to reduce the duration and intensity of illness, Rossi said.
Knowing that is more important than ever because recent research shows that you can get COVID and flu at the same time. According to CDC, people who get COVID and flu at the same time may be contagious longer, meaning the viruses can be spread to more people if prevention measures aren’t taken.
People age 6 months and older are recommended to get a flu shot.
People who don’t want to get vaccinated for themselves are urged to get vaccinated for others because children under 12 can’t get the COVID vaccine yet and children under 6 months can’t get a flu shot. In addition, hospitals in some parts of the country have been overwhelmed with COVID patients.
Besides getting a flu shot and the COVID vaccine, people are urged to stay home when they’re sick and wash their hands thoroughly and frequently. Wearing a mask reduces the risk of respiratory droplets transmitting COVID, influenza and the common cold.
Many symptoms of flu and COVID are the same but there are differences, IDPH said. Flu usually comes on more suddenly, a person with COVID can be contagious longer and COVID is causing more severe illness. Common symptoms include fever and chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches, headache, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of taste or smell. The latter is more common with COVID.
Anyone experiencing symptoms should self-isolate, get tested and contact their health-care provider.