Rio de Janeiro, Jan 4 (EFE).- Health officials in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina and Rio de Janeiro said Tuesday they are investigating new suspected cases of Covid-19 and influenza co-infection.
They made those announcements after six initial “flurona” cases were confirmed in that South American country.
Rio de Janeiro’s municipal health secretary, Daniel Soranz, confirmed that 17 potential cases are under investigation in that southeastern metropolis but that to date none of the patients has become seriously ill.
Santa Catarina’s Health Secretariat said for its part that it is trying to confirm whether 10 patients simultaneously contracted the two viruses in that southern region and currently is awaiting lab results.
Officials in Minas Gerais, meanwhile, said they are investigating a suspected flurona case in the city of Juiz de Fora.
A total of six simultaneous Covid-19-flu infections have been confirmed thus far in Latin America, all of them in Brazil: three in the northeastern state of Ceara (two babies and a man), two others in Rio de Janeiro (two teenagers) and one in Sao Paulo.
Despite the interest generated, Brazilian regional authorities say these cases are not new and were seen in 2020 in other countries, including the United States (although none were verified with the World Health Organization).
Specialists say the number of flurona cases may be more numerous but are difficult to quantify because laboratory confirmation of the dual infections is needed and patients who show signs of illness are often only tested for Covid-19.
But cases are expected to multiply in the coming days in Brazilian states such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where there are signs that both the flu and the coronavirus are spreading widely and simultaneously.
Concerns about flurona resurfaced on Saturday following reports of the world’s first verified case of a person co-infected with influenza and Covid-19 – a pregnant woman in Israel who had not been vaccinated against either virus.
Since then, other cases have been diagnosed in Spain and Hungary.
According to Brazilian health authorities, Covid-19-flu double infections are rare and thus far have not caused serious health complications.
“It’s important to highlight that no published scientific studies exist that confirm the clinical or immunological implications of a joint infection,” the Rio de Janeiro Health Secretariat said in a statement, adding that it will monitor any verified case.
Brazil, one of the countries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, has registered the second-most deaths worldwide (619,000) after the US and the third most cases (22.3 million) after the US and India. EFE