A 25-year-old Nevada man has become the first confirmed case of a person being re-infected with the coronavirus in the US, researchers said Monday.
The patient was infected with two different genetic strains of COVID-19 in less than two months, according to a case study published in the medical journal “The Lancet.”
“The second infection was symptomatically more severe than the first,” the authors of the study wrote.
The man, who had no underlying conditions, originally tested positive for the virus on April 18, and experienced symptoms including headache, coughing, nausea and diarrhea.
He isolated, got better and then tested negative twice in May.
But by the end of that month, the man went to an urgent care center with the same symptoms he’d felt before, plus fever and dizziness.
He tested positive again on June 5.
The patient was admitted to the hospital after suffering shortness of breath and requiring supplemental oxygen. He eventually recovered.
The fact that the man tested negative twice in between bouts with the illness means it’s unlikely he suffered one prolonged infection, according to the study authors.
The researchers said the case indicates that being exposed to the bug previously doesn’t completely guarantee immunity in all cases.
“All individuals, whether previously diagnosed with COVID-19 or not, should take identical precautions to avoid infection with SARS-CoV-2,” the scientists wrote.
Previous case studies of similar coronavirus re-infections have been published in Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ecuador.