Health professionals prepare for “twindemic”

MADISON (WKOW) — Health care professionals preparing for the upcoming flu season — in addition to dealing with the coronavirus — warn of a potential “twindemic.”

“People with symptoms — whether it’s flu or COVID or an unknown diagnosis — we’re really encouraging patients to come in and get evaluated earlier rather than later,” said Dr. Amy Franta from SSM Health.

The flu is less contagious and less deadly than the coronavirus. However, the expected influx of patients from either virus would put a strain on hospital resources.

In preparation for this, hospitals have new testing strategies to account for both viruses. For instance, new machinery can differentiate between the two and provide timely diagnoses.

“A lot of the other things that we’re doing to prepare for the ‘twindemic’ or flu season are things that we do every year,” said Dr. Franta. “That’s our flu vaccinations, that’s PPE, and that’s staff education.”

She added that hospitals have made a conscious effort to increase levels of flu vaccinations on hand. They expect more community members will want to get vaccinated.

“Influenza and the coronavirus are just two of many viruses that can cause cold & flu like symptoms,” said Dr. Franta.

Although each virus works differently, infection control practices like limiting gatherings, wearing a mask and social distancing are effective against both.

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