Got a cold?
Eyes and nose running?
While thoughts of COVID-19 jump to mind, it’s likely a more run-of-the-mill viral cold or maybe an early taste of allergy season, according to a medical expert.
And as a bonus — if you have the cold or the flu, you likely don’t have COVID-19.
“We don’t tend to see a lot of co-infection. Can it happen? Sure. But it’s fairly rare,” said Dr. Michael Calderwood, an infectious disease physician at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
He said there’s no indication that the common cold or flu protect someone from COVID-19. But on the plus side, they don’t increase one’s risk of COVID-19, he said.
Some findings, based on people hospitalized outside the United States, show less than 2% of co-infection of both COVID-19 and other respiratory ailments, he said.
COVID-19 has hit the state and country in the middle of a typical flu season where many other respiratory viruses are circulating.
At this point, those other viruses are more common than COVID-19, Calderwood said.
For example, the latest update for influenza described it as widespread in 48 states, including New Hampshire, according to the March 7 update on influenza by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
Of all the recorded doctor visits for the first week of March, 7% were for pneumonia and influenza-like illnesses; another 5% were for acute respiratory illness.
Data on the common cold, which is more aligned to COVID-19, are not available on the state website.
But so far, COVID-19 tests have detected common respiratory viruses much more than COVID-19.
According to the March 18 New Hampshire data, 891 people have been tested for COVID-19; 39 have tested positive with 231 tests pending.
While the state does not provide the number of negative tests in its daily update, they appear to outnumber the number of positive tests, even if all pending tests came back as positive.
Meanwhile, allergies are up next, a seasonal ailment that doesn’t involve a virus.
Calderwood said there is no indication that allergies will make a person more susceptible to COVID-19 or make an infection more severe.
The symptoms of allergies — runny nose, sinus congestion and sore throat — are not commonly associated with COVID-19. The latest description of COVID-19 symptoms include fever, coughing and shortness of breath but downplay sore throat.
Calderwood and other public health professionals have said that COVID-19 testing will not be available immediately on a mass scale. They urge people to self-isolate if they have symptoms, even if it ends up being the common cold.
“We can’t test everyone. We really need to rely on folks in the community to stay home,” he said.