Covid-19: it is not possible to distinguish a flu from the coronavirus without a test

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Symptoms are the same between flu syndrome, flu, and the new coronavirus. A biological sample is needed to identify the disease.

Among his many questions about Covid-19, is the question whether the virus's symptoms are distinguishable from seasonal flu. The answer is simple, they are the same. This is what the World Health Organization (WHO) says on its site about the new coronavirus: "The symptoms depend on the virus, but the most common include respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, the infection can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. "

About seasonal flu, the same site writes: "The symptoms are sudden-onset fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose. The cough can be severe and last for 2 weeks or plus ".

If we only look at the symptoms, "there is no way to tell the difference"

Between the new coronavirus and seasonal flu, Bruno Lina, a virologist and researcher at the International Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIRI), tells CheckNews. This is the context that will help doctors guide the patient: if he has not gone to a risk area, has not contacted a person on his return, there is a good chance that it is not covid and it is a simple flu or Flu syndrome. In any case, biological samples must be taken to confirm the nature of the virus.

How is the care of people with symptoms really going?

Various recommendations were sent to the caregivers. The operational coordination of epidemiological and biological risk has put online a file to "identify and manage a suspected Covid-19 patient." If the patient has the "clinical picture" of a Covid-19 infection (fever greater than or equal to 38 ° and / or clinical signs of acute respiratory infection or other atypical signs) and has been exposed should be examined by a reference infectologist . If the expert judges that the patient's situation corresponds to the definition, then it becomes a possible case. A biological sample is then taken to confirm, or not, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (the name of the virus, while Covid-19 is the name of the disease) in the patient.

Also, because the symptoms between the two diseases are so close, infectious disease specialists insist that people who are told to get a flu shot should be. "If a vaccinated person exhibits these symptoms and is vaccinated against influenza, we can quickly rule out this hypothesis," explains Alexandre Bleibtreu, an infectious disease specialist in France.

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