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A COVID First in the US That No One Wanted

Patient had a confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2020 4:30 AM CDT
Updated Oct 13, 2020 6:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – An unwanted first in the US: A patient was confirmed to have been reinfected with the coronavirus. The 25-year-old Nevada man first tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-April, with symptoms including sore throat, cough, headache, and GI issues that started March 25, per the BBC. He recovered by April 27, testing negative twice in May. But on May 28, just two days after his second negative test, he came down with a fever, cough, and dizziness. He tested positive again in early June. This is just the fifth confirmed case of reinfection across the globe, according to NPR, though other outlets offer higher numbers. It's difficult to confirm reinfections, because doctors must have nasal swabs from both infections so the genomes of the virus samples can be compared, and that can only be done in very advanced hospitals and labs.

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A particularly alarming detail is that the man was hospitalized the second time around. "The second infection was symptomatically more severe than the first," the authors of a study on the case write. This is just the second confirmed instance in which a reinfection was worse than the original infection, and scientists still aren't sure why that might happen in some cases. One bright spot: An expert at Imperial College London says about 90% of people with "a clear, symptomatic infection" appear to have the antibodies to fend off a reinfection "perhaps for about a year." The Nevada man, who survived his second infection, was otherwise healthy with no known additional risk factors, USA Today reports. He is an essential worker, as is a parent with whom he lives. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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