MADISON, Wis. — A surge in COVID-19 cases during cold and flu season may leave many wondering what they are sick with.

UW Health pediatric infectious disease and medical director of the immunization program, Dr. Jim Conway, said the flu is making its rounds here in Wisconsin, too. 

“The flu has really taken off in the past couple weeks and there are about six states that have high activity already," Conway said. "Here in Wisconsin, we are surrounded."

We all may know someone not feeling their best this time of year, but knowing what they have contracted can be tough. COVID-19, the flu and common cold all have similar symptoms.

“Unfortunately I have to lump COVID-19 and flu together as being very similar. They both start out with scratchy throat, runny nose, cough. They both have fever, aches, headaches and things like that,” Conway said.

Conway said a cold doesn’t commonly come with a fever or aches. However, the best way to tell is to test.

“Whether it’s flu, or whether it’s more COVID-19, it’s a little terrifying to think about how this is going to go after the holidays and all that travel and people are going through their incubation periods and starting to come down with more symptoms and with schools reopening and kids being back in those settings,” Conway said.

Dr. Conway has a focus in pediatric infectious disease and said he’s concerned for kids as we move into these next few months.

“I think what we are worried and nervous about is these waves of current pandemic surges affect the unvaccinated. The largest group of unvaccinated right now is kids. So as a pediatrician, I'm worried for the kids. I’m worried for our hospital staff. I’m worried they are going to keep spreading this,” Conway said.