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NORRISTOWN, PA — Two Montgomery County residents who suffered from "flurona," or a combination of COVID-19 and influenza, have died, officials confirmed on Wednesday. It marks the county's first flu-related deaths of the season.
The victims were aged 77 and 89, and both were hospitalized before they passed away, the Office of Public Health said.
“Flu activity was low last year, so co-infections were relatively rare," Christina Miller, the administrator for the Montgomery County Office of Public Health, said in a statement. "We are still in the first half of flu season now, and there is still time to benefit from flu vaccination this season. To be fully protected, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and the flu."
"Flurona" is not a distinct disease or virus, but simply a portmanteau used to describe individuals who have both infections at once. Cases of it were rare last year, but not unheard of: cases were confirmed as early as Feb. 2020.
Such co-infections can increase both the disease symptoms and mortality rate of the virus, officials said.
The county has seen 1,359 cases this flu season, and 23 of those individuals were hospitalized, including the two deaths.
Flu cases saw a sharp rise across Pennsylvania over last year, health leaders are urging vaccinations as a crucial step to limit its spread. The county offers free shots at its vaccination clinics.
Symptoms are similar to coronavirus and include pneumonia, loss of taste and smell, and death.