A Nevada man has become the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with coronavirus for a second time amid similar reports of reinfection out of Hong Kong.
The 25-year-old from Reno initially tested positive for the virus in April. He later recovered, but was again diagnosed in June — this time with significantly more severe symptoms, according to a new study from the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine.
From there, he came down with pneumonia, which required hospitalization and oxygen treatment.
“Genetic tests from each episode showed that viruses were similar in major ways but differed in at least 12 spots that would be highly unlikely from natural evolution of the bug if the man had it continuously rather than being infected a second time,” said Mark Pandori, director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, in a statement to ABC News 13.
One of his parents, who he’d been living with at the time, also became sickened with coronavirus in June. Doctors have speculated this is how the 25-year-old caught the virus a second time.
During his first bout with the illness, he had a sore throat, cough, headache, nausea and diarrhea, researchers wrote in a preprint study published Thursday. On May 31, he sought care for fever, headache, dizziness, cough, nausea and diarrhea.
Experts said after recovering for the first time, the man twice tested negative for the virus before being diagnosed with it again 48 days later.
An examination of the genetic material has prompted researchers to believe that each case had been separate and distinct, ultimately suggesting people can sickened by the virus on more than one occasion.
The study, which has not been peer-reviewed by a journal, comes after Hong Kong researchers said they found the first documented case of coronavirus reinfection in a 33-year-old man.
“After one recovers from COVID-19, we still do not know how much immunity is built up, how long it may last, or how well antibodies play a role in protection against a reinfection,” Mark Pandori, the director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, said in a news release Thursday.
“If reinfection is possible on such a short timeline, there may be implications for the efficacy of vaccines developed to fight the disease. It may also have implications for herd immunity,” Pandori said. “It is important to note that this is a singular finding. It does not provide any information to us with regard to the generalizability of this phenomenon.”