Nevada man likely first reinfected coronavirus case in US, health officials say

RENO, Nev. — A 25-year-old Nevada man is likely the first case of a person confirmed to be reinfected with the coronavirus, health officials said.

The man, from Washoe County, tested positive in April, then negative two times in May before testing positive again in June, officials with Nevada State Public Health Laboratory said in a news release Friday. 

Laboratory workers worked with scientists from the University of Nevada at Reno School of Medicine to ensure that two samples were not mixed up or tainted in the lab, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. The scientists even enlisted the help of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office to conduct “identity testing” on the man, the newspaper said.

Mark Pandori, director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, said the two positive tests were “genetically distinct.”

“It’s significant in that it’s the first of its kind,” Pandori told the Gazette-Journal. “We know that people can get reinfected by viruses even though they’ve been vaccinated or have had exposure. There was a great unknown as to whether we would see that with [COVID-19] so we know that it can happen now.”

The news comes after the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services reported 609 additional coronavirus cases and 15 deaths, The Associated Press reported Saturday. The state has reported 68,461 cases and 1,302 deaths since the pandemic began.

In a pre-print study posted Thursday, the patient first had a positive test in April after complaining of a sore throat, cough, headache, nausea and diarrhea, CNN reported. He recovered around April 27 and felt well for a month, but on May 31 he sought care for symptoms that included a fever, headache, dizziness, cough, nausea and diarrhea, CNN reported. Five days later, he was hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19.

“We examined the genomic material of the viruses and samples to investigate this, Pandori said in a statement. “It is just one finding, but it shows that a person can possibly become infected with SARS-CoV-2 a second time.”

The pre-print study has not yet been peer-reviewed by a journal, CNN reported.

Pandori said there have been only three other cases of reinfection worldwide -- two cases in Europe and one in Hong Kong, the Gazette-Journal reported.