COVID-19 vs. Influenza: Similarities and differences

Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 7:23 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — With fall and winter approaching, some may wonder how COVID-19 will affect the upcoming influenza season.

With both COVID-19 and the flu being respiratory infections, bearing similar systems, Dr. Jennifer Johnson, who practices family medicine at the Mayo Clinic Health System, offers tips on understanding the signs.

“So some symptoms that would be in common would be like a fever or cough. But we will see more shortness of breath with COVID and that’s something we would very rarely see with influenza. Things like runny nose are more common in influenza and less with COVID,” Johnson explained.

COVID-19 symptoms may also include a loss of taste or smell. Health officials advise you to get tested if you think you may have the virus. You can also have both influenza and COVID-19 at the same time.

Johnson continues that strategies to slow the spread of both sicknesses include wearing a mask, social distancing and good hand washing.

In addition, while there is no vaccine for COVID-19, she advises the public to get their flu shot as early as possible and that it is never too late to get one as well.

COVID-19 and the flu also have several differences. Research shows COVID-19 and the flu are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, while influenza is caused by the Influenza A and B viruses.

Visit the Mayo Clinic’s website for more information on coronavirus and influenza.

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