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'Flurona' is real, but don't panic -- it's common to get two viruses at once

Tom Avril, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Health & Fitness

For a crash course, we spoke to Sara Cherry, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and A.J. te Velthuis, a virologist and assistant professor of molecular biology at Princeton University.

But first, the silly factor.

WHO COINED THE TERM FLURONA?

Hard to say. Among the first to use it was a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, more than a year ago.

The term did not really begin to spread until this month, apparently in response to media headlines of such a case in Israel. Comedians quickly joined in.

Al Yankovic tweeted that he would take a pass on "My Flurona," riffing on the 1979 pop single "My Sharona." Conan O'Brien coined his own term, tweeting: "Flurona reminds me of that time I had herpmydia."

 

Physicians poked fun, as well.

Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute of Global Health, told the New York Times: "It sounds like 'sharknado.' But it's not a known medical term."

Others warned that the hybrid nickname would mislead people into thinking that some sort of hybrid virus was in our midst.

Again, no. What's happening is simply a coinfection. And while influenza and coronavirus both are spiky balls of proteins, they are different types of viruses. They cannot combine into some sort of supervirus. Each contains genetic instructions that allow it to make copies only of itself, Cherry said.

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