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Coronavirus or common cold? How to tell the difference

Coronavirus

A rendering of coronavirus via the CDC.

DALLAS, Texas (NEXSTAR) — With the coronavirus causing concerns across the globe, many people may be wondering if their seasonal symptoms are the common cold, flu or something more.

Symptoms for the viral infection include runny nose, headache, cough and fever. And yes, those are also the common symptoms of the flu.

According to a report in Canada’s Global News, that creates difficulty for medical professionals. It may be challenging to weed out mild cases of coronavirus due to its similarities with the flu, said Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

“Every respiratory virus is the same — you get a runny nose, a stuffy nose, a cough, sometimes a sore throat, all because the lining of your nose and throat are damaged. The symptoms are caused by that virus or bacteria damaging the cells of your respiratory tract. It doesn’t matter what virus is causing it,” McGreer told Global News.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shortness of breath, body aches and chills could be associated with more dangerous types of the coronavirus. In more extreme cases, the virus may cause pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney failure and death.

Symptoms of milder coronavirus cases can be “somewhat indistinguishable” from the flu, Eleanor Fish, an immunology professor at the University of Toronto, told Global News.

While there isn’t a vaccine to prevent coronavirus, there is a diagnostic test that quickly detects the bug. There are research teams already hard at work to create a vaccine.

At this point, the experts say travel history plays the biggest role in determining whether you have flu or cold-like symptoms versus the coronavirus. If you haven’t traveled to Wuhan, China, you’re likely in the clear.

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