Doctors say you should be more worried about catching the flu than the coronavirus

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The coronavirus has hit a little closer to home as dozens of people are quarantined for the illness in Nebraska. But doctors warn there's another virus you should be more concerned about.

Doctors say you're more likely to catch the flu than the coronavirus here in Central Nebraska. (Source: KSNB)

While everyone's worried about possibly catching the coronavirus, a more common respiratory illness has struck again: The second wave of the flu has hit the U.S.

The CDC estimates at least 26 million cases and 14,000 deaths this flu season.

"At this point we really should be more concerned about the flu than the coronavirus," said Dr. Daniel Brailita, an infectious disease specialist at Mary Lanning Healthcare. "There is no human to human sustained transmission of coronavirus in the United States. But every year, between five to 20 percent of people in the United States get sick with the flu."

The World Health Organization reported on Tuesday that there's been more than 73,000 confirmed coronavirus cases globally. Only 15 are officially confirmed in the U.S.

So far more than 1,800 people have died from the coronavirus. Most of the deaths have occurred in China. None are in the U.S.

Brailita said this is a rapidly evolving situation, and they're learning new information about the virus every day. He said the goal is to learn how it spreads and preventative methods.

As of now, it's not clear what the virus means for the future.

"At the highest levels like the CDC and WHO, we are prepared for the transition into this virus actually gaining a foothold within the human respiratory viruses. Hopefully that doesn't happen and it's contained like SARS was, but we don't know for sure," Brailita said.

The coronavirus and the flu are both respiratory illnesses and have similar symptoms that include cough, fever, muscle aches and shortness of breath.

Since they're both respiratory illnesses, you can use the same preventative methods as well. You should practice good hand hygiene, like washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water; using hand sanitizer; not touching your face; and sneezing or coughing into your elbow.

If you have flu-like symptoms you should see your doctor.