A 25-year-old man has become the first person in the United States to suffer from a second coronavirus infection.

He first tested positive in mid-April after showing mild symptoms of sore throat, cough, headache, nausea and diarrhea.

But, after recovering and taking two negative tests, he started to feel similar warning signs in May.

He tested positive – 48 days after the first negative test – and suffered from a more serious infection. He was hospitalized, needed oxygen, and suffered from cough, muscle pain and shortness of breath. An x-ray also revealed gaps in his lungs suggesting viral pneumonia.

This is the fifth known re-infection with Covid-19 in the world. Genetic sequencing reveals that the patient, from Washoe County in Nevada, was infected with two different strains of coronavirus.

Experts are convinced that the disease will be milder the second time around because the body will have already developed natural immunity to it – but this is not certain.

The latest case – published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases – poses questions to all immunization programs and those pushing for a herd immunity strategy.

It comes after Donald Trump controversially claimed he is immune to the virus and has a ‘protective glow’ which means he ‘can’t catch it and can’t give it away’.

He tested positive for the coronavirus on April 18 after developing mild symptoms, then tested negative twice in May. However, he developed more severe symptoms on May 28 and tested positive again on June 5 (above)

The Nevada man is the fifth person in the world to be re-infected, and more cases have been reported in Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ecuador.  Pictured: Genetic testing of the patient's two virus strains from Nevada

The Nevada man is the fifth person in the world to be re-infected, and more cases have been reported in Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ecuador. Pictured: Genetic testing of the patient’s two virus strains from Nevada

The American man has no name and had no underlying health issues. The case was revealed yesterday in a pre-printed study.

While this does not prove that contracting the virus will not result in herd immunity, scientists said everyone should observe protective measures, including wearing a face mask, social distancing and hand washing.

Dr Mark Pandori, of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory and who led the study, told DailyMail.com that the patient may have been given a ‘very high dose’ of the virus to be re-infected. It would have “overwhelmed” the immune system, he said, leading to a more serious infection.

Re-infections can occur in the United States, he warned, but most are likely asymptomatic and therefore go undetected.

“If (this) happens, we would have no way of knowing,” he said. “People would not feel inclined to get tested again. It is also difficult to confirm a case of reinfection. Some labs barely get hold of the tests, let alone the rest tests.

He said the case “ strongly suggests ” that individuals should continue to take serious precautions against the virus, including wearing a face mask, social distancing and hand washing.

Genetic testing showed that the virus strains from each fight were different (above), indicating true reinfection

Genetic testing showed that the virus strains from each fight were different (above), indicating true reinfection

CAN YOU WAIT FOR COVID-19 TWICE?

At the start of the pandemic, scientists were perplexed as to whether or not you could catch Covid-19 twice. Now the evidence is more convincing, following a series of reports of re-infections around the world.

With some illnesses such as chickenpox, the immune system can remember exactly how to destroy it and can push it away if it ever tries to reenter the body.

Tests have shown that many people who recover from Covid-19 have antibodies – which can produce future immunity – but it is not known if there are enough.

However, antibodies are only one type of substance that can produce immunity. The immune system is a huge network of proteins that have different functions to protect the body against infection.

Others, including white blood cells called T cells and B cells, can also help the body fight disease, but are more difficult to find using the tests currently available.

Evidence begins to suggest that antibodies go away in as little as eight weeks after infection with the coronavirus, scientifically called SARS-Cov-2.

On the other hand, T cells – which target and destroy cells already infected with the virus – are “long lasting”.

A promising study in monkeys found they were unable to catch Covid-19 a second time after recovering from it, leading scientists to believe the same could apply to humans.

Rhesus monkeys have been deliberately re-infected by Chinese scientists to test their body’s reaction.

Because the coronavirus has only been known to scientists for nine months, there hasn’t been enough time to study whether people develop long-term immunity.

After the patient tested positive for the virus in the Washoe County Health District on April 18, he was isolated for treatment. Doctors waited until the symptoms disappeared and performed two negative tests, before giving her permission to return to the community.

But he began to suffer from the same warning signs on May 28, including dizziness.

He was rushed to emergency care but was sent back after a chest x-ray gave no results.

After the symptoms persisted for five days, he went to a primary care doctor who diagnosed hypoxia, which occurs when tissues do not have enough oxygen to support bodily functions.

The patient was sent to the emergency room and was cleaned up – where he tested positive for Covid-19.

He suffered from a more serious episode of the disease, from which he recovered.

Of the four other confirmed re-infections, only one, in Ecuador, had a more severe episode of the disease the second time around.

Dr Pandori added: “ I think (the study) shows that whether you are positive or not, we are all in the same public health boat.

“ Be aware that you could be infected again because we cannot prove invulnerability.

“ Mask-wearing and social distancing apply just as much to those who have had the virus as to those who don’t. ”

Professor Brendan Wren, of vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told The Times that the case suggests that a Covid-19 vaccine might “ not be fully protective ”.

“However, given the 40 million cases worldwide, these little examples of re-infections are tiny and should not deter vaccine development efforts,” he said.

Associate Professor Simon Clarke, Cell Microbiology at the University of Reading, added that it was still too early to say how common reinfection could be.

“The more prevalent re-infections imply that herd immunity would not work,” he said.

“ This provides further scientific evidence of extreme caution in proposing policies that allow Covid-19 to tear apart the younger population while attempting to protect the elderly and vulnerable, even if it were possible, which does not is probably not the case. ”

Scientists are still divided over the possibility of re-infections, as the disease has only been around since January – meaning its long-term effects are still unclear.

So far, cases of people infected more than once have been neither numerous nor convincing. In August, two European survivors of Covid-19 were reportedly reinfected after recovering from the disease; an elderly Dutch patient with a weakened immune system and a Belgian woman who exhibited only mild symptoms tested positive twice, local broadcasters say.

It followed a landmark report by a Hong Kong man who was re-infected four and a half months after being initially struck. Genetic analysis revealed that the 33-year-old’s second episode of the illness, which he caught while traveling in Europe, was caused by a different strain of the virus.

What are the cases of people re-infected with the coronavirus?

Ecuador: Male, 46

First infection: slight. Second infection: severe

A 46-year-old man suffered a more serious infection when he caught the virus for the second time. After catching the virus for the first time in May and then testing negative, he was swabbed again in August after showing mild symptoms. It was positive.

Dutch: Female, 86

First infection: slight. Second infection: severe

An 86-year-old woman has died after being re-infected with coronavirus. She recovered from the first case, but two months later she developed a fever, cough and shortness of breath. Covid-19 has been diagnosed again. The infection occurred after she started chemotherapy for an underlying health problem. Genetic studies revealed that she was infected with two different strains of the virus.

Belgium: Female

First infection: slight. Second infection: mild

A woman suffered a second infection in June after contracting the virus for the first time in March. Local media report that she did not suffer from severe symptoms of the disease.

Hong Kong: Male, 33

First infection: slight. Second infection: mild

A 33-year-old man infected with the virus in March suffered a second infection in August. He was tested again after returning from a trip to Spain via the UK and found positive for Covid-19. He did not suffer any symptoms with the second infection, which scientists say could show that the re-infections are generally milder.

Source: International SOS

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