AUSTIN, TX — Flu season is upon us once more, but emerging this year against the backdrop of the coronavirus. Given the double threat, Austin Public Health officials have outlined the dinstinctions between both illnesses to alert concerned residents.
Referencing material provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local health officials noted both are contagious respiratory illness but caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with the new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 while flu is caused by an infection with influenza viruses, health officials said.
Similarities and Differences
Symptoms: Common symptoms of both COVID-19 and flu include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain and/or headache. A COVID-19 symptom, different from flu symptoms, may include a loss of taste or smell.
Onset: For both COVID-19 and flu, one or more days can pass between a person becoming infected and experiencing symptoms. Both viruses can also spread for at least one day before individuals experience any symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms can take longer to appear than flu. For flu, symptoms typically appear one to four days after infection. For COVID-19, symptoms can appear two to fourteen days after infection.
Spread: Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person to person between people who are in close contact with one another, within about six feet. Both illnesses are spread mainly by respiratory droplets when a person infected with either virus coughs, sneezes or talks.
For coronavirus testing, visit the COVID-19 Information city portal
For flu testing, visit your provider, urgent care, or pharmacy
Risk: Both COVID-19 and flu can cause severe illness and complications. Those at highest risk include older adults, people with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women. However, the risk of complications for healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19.
Vaccine & Treatment: Flu has an annual vaccine available to prevent the illness. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
Visit VaccineFinder.org to find a location near you offering flu shots.
Flu also has an antiviral drug that can reduce the severity and length of illness if prescribed within 48 hours of symptom onset. For additional COVID-19 information, visit the COVID-19 Information portal.
Graphic via Austin Public Health.
This article originally appeared on the Austin Patch