Houston teen details personal experience dealing with flu and COVID at same time

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Alec Zierlein is your typical 17-year-old high school student, except he didn't have much fun during his Christmas holiday.

Zierlein, one of his brothers, and his dad, sports radio host Lance Zierlein, began feeling sick a few days before Christmas.

"I ended up getting tested the day before Christmas for strep throat, flu and COVID," said Zierlein. "I didn't think I had any of the three. It felt like a mild cold."

It turns out, the teen had both the flu and COVID-19, a diagnosis that's been dubbed as "flurona."

SEE ALSO: What is 'Flurona'? Developing 2 separate infections a new health risk, experts say

"I hadn't heard anything about that until that moment. Not on the news or anything, like diseases that just stacking up on one another," Zierlein said.

But Zierlein isn't alone. Doctors said getting infected with flu and COVID at the same time is rare, but it is starting to happen.

"The symptoms are similar," said Dr. Janak Patel, the director of the Department of Infection Control & Healthcare Epidemiology at UTMB.

According to Patel, UTMB is seeing a 30 to 40% positivity rate for COVID. However, the flu is only around 4%. Still, within the last week, UTMB has seen three cases of "flurona," including one in a child. Patel said all patients are doing well, provided they got a quick and accurate diagnosis.

SEE ALSO: Why are so many vaccinated people getting COVID-19 lately? | What you need to know

"I don't think we should be scared. We know how to take care of both of these illnesses," said Patel, who points out vaccines and good hygiene are the best ways to prevent both illnesses.

Zierlein said he had already been vaccinated against COVID, but had not received a flu shot. He plans to get both vaccines from now on.

"I'm not a huge fan of shots in general. But if I had gone back, I definitely would have taken that flu shot," said Zierlein. "It wasn't the best Christmas Day, having to stay in my room."

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