SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Whether you have a sniffle, a cough… or you feel like you might have a fever… the first thing that probably comes to mind is the Coronavirus.
But that may not be the case.
Dr. Wendell Hoffman, an infectious disease doctor with Sanford Health is breaking down some of the similarities and differences between influenza and coronavirus.
Hoffman: So the similarities include, these are viruses that are contagious between humans. They are viruses that cause a respiratory illness, both upper respiratory and lower respiratory, including pneumonia. And they are viruses that we can do something about using simple measures. So those are the main similarities. They’re also, this is also viruses that I think bring out the best in us.
Heinemann: Talk to me about some of the symptoms that would signal that you had the coronavirus versus influenza.
Hoffman: So both of these virus groups have a spectrum of symptoms. We’re learning a lot more about coronavirus, we’ve known a lot about influenza over time. But some of the main symptoms include, range all the way from the common cold type symptoms to full blown pneumonia with severe fever, cough, shortness of breath and progressive respiratory insufficiency.
Heinemann: Is there an easy way to tell the difference between between if you have influenza and if you have the coronavirus, and need to be seen?
Hoffman: That’s one of the big challenges. They can both present with very similar symptoms which is why we want to encourage people to get their flu shot still. Because if you can get your flu shot still, you make it less likely that you will come down with influenza and will be presenting with one of these indistinguishable syndromes that makes it very difficult for the health care providers. So I’m begging people, I’m begging, get your flu shot.
Heinemann: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Hoffman: Well I think the main differences are that the coronavirus appears to be much more contagious. With the factor of maybe 2 to 3, so for every person that has influenza they can give it to just over one person as a secondary attack rate. With coronavirus, that’s multiplied by a factor of 2 to 3. The other major thing, there’s two other major things that I think the public should know. The mortality, we’re still trying to figure that out with coronavirus. Maybe at ten times what it is with influenza. And lastly the role with children is kind of an emerging topic. We don’t really completely understand it. It looks like children acquire the virus about the same rate as adults, but they don’t get all of the symptoms. So it’s a fascinating question that still remains, the whole story remains to be told.
If you believe you have symptoms of coronavirus and aren’t sure if you need to be seen, experts ask that you call your health care provider before going to the clinic.