With many symptoms of COVID-19 mirroring those of Influenza (flu), the magnitude of the 2020-2021 flu season will be anybody’s guess! On one hand, there is hope that current practices put in place to combat COVID-19, like mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing, will minimize the number of people sickened by the flu. On the other hand, is the big question, how can you tell the difference?
When comparing the two, there are many similarities, but there are differences as well. As an example, the flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.
When it comes to symptoms, because Flu Symptoms and COVID-19 Symptoms are so comparable, it may be hard to tell the difference and testing may be needed to help with diagnosis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified some key differences between the flu and COVID-19 that may help with illness identification and the steps to minimize the spread and severity of the viruses.
The CDC states that getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect yourself, your family and your community from flu. They also recommend that September and October are good times to get a flu vaccine, so act now!
Signs and symptoms:
Both the flu and COVID-19 can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
One difference is that COVID-19 may include change in or loss of taste or smell.
Time between exposure and infection:
For both the flu and COVID-19, 1 or more days can pass between a person becoming infected and when he or she starts to experience illness symptoms. As for differences, flu symptoms typically present 1 to 4 days after infection, while symptoms of COVID-19 appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after infection with the current average being 5 days after being infected.
Length of being contagious:
For both the flu and COVID-19, it is possible to spread the virus for at least 1 day before experiencing any symptoms. Differences:
Flu: Most people with flu are contagious for about 1 day before they show symptoms. Older children and adults with flu appear to be most contagious during the initial 3-4 days of their illness but many remain contagious for about 7 days. Infants and people with weakened immune systems can be contagious for even longer.
COVID-19: Though how long someone can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 is still under investigation, current evidence shows that it is possible for people to spread the virus for about 2 days before experiencing signs or symptoms and remain contagious for at least 10 days after signs or symptoms first appeared. If someone is asymptomatic or their symptoms go away, it’s possible to remain contagious for at least 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19.
Other topics of comparison of the flu vs. COVID-19 include:
- How it Spreads
- People at High-Risk for Severe Illness
- Approved Treatments
As for the workplace, the CDC offers 10 Tips for Preventing the Spread of Flu at Work some of which include promoting the flu vaccine, advising employees to stay home if they are sick, encouraging employee hygiene and enforcing facility cleanliness. Remind workers to stop the spread of germs by wearing a mask, frequent and thorough hand washing, coughing into the crook of the elbow, physical distancing and limiting contact with people who are infected.
Visit CDC for print materials to communicate best practices with your team.
Let SafeLink Consulting help with your Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan needs. If you who have developed your Infectious Disease Preparedness Plan, consider how to update it to include the flu and how you will address issues relating to worker safety from this virus as well as COVID-19. SafeLink is ready to help you.
How do you really know if you have a proper infectious disease preparedness plan for your dental practice or dental laboratory?
Get an Expert - Having an expert assist you in developing a COVID-19 Safety Management Program is the best way to meet today's challenges. Need help with your infectious disease preparedness plan? The good news is SafeLink Consulting has simplified this process for you! We are ready to help you get this done quickly and economically. Contact us today for assistance. Complete the info request form or call 800.330.6003 or 470.533.2581. or set up a meeting with Sandy to learn more.
Learn more about COVID-19 Infection Control for Dentistry
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