THE RECIPE FOR RESPIRATORY SEASON
The flu and COVID-19 are top of mind as we enter the 2020-21 respiratory season. But even during previous flu seasons, influenza was not the most common respiratory pathogen in circulation. Data from BioFire® Syndromic Trends show that influenza comprised less than one third of detected respiratory pathogens during peak flu season.
Furthermore, respiratory co-infections are common. In some cases, as many as 20% of COVID-19 patients have co-infections with another respiratory virus.1 Similarly, viral coinfection rates among patients who have tested positive for influenza have been reported to be as high as 20%.2
What makes all this particularly challenging is that several respiratory pathogens produce similar, overlapping symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms can include coughing, fever, headache, and sore throat.3 Flu symptoms and cold symptoms can be very similar. That’s why it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine what’s causing a respiratory infection based on symptoms alone.
When a doctor sees a patient who is sick with a respiratory infection, the only way to determine what’s making them sick—whether it’s COVID-19, the flu, or a cold—is diagnostic testing. The bottom line is that the upcoming respiratory season has the potential to flood doctors’ offices and testing sites with patients. Here are some tips to help protect yourself and reduce the burden on the healthcare system.