El Pasoan gets COVID-19 a second time, doctors say it is uncommon but possible

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — After battling COVID-19 in early August, an El Paso woman said she tested positive a second time and says this time around, her symptoms are worse.

El Pasoan Eva Rubio told KTSM the first time she tested positive for coronavirus, she only had mild symptoms including a headache and body aches. However, she said her symptoms now include sore throat, cough, watery eyes and chest pain.

“This time it’s like a car ran me over, I feel everything. It hurts,” Rubio said.

Rubio said she decided to get tested over the weekend because her sister was feeling sick and she tested positive for the virus as well.

“I just thought, ‘okay I might as well go get tested,’ and I got my results yesterday (Sunday) and yeah, positive,” Rubio said.

Rubio said she believes the first time she got infected was during a trip to the grocery store and nobody else in her home got sick.

“It’s just scary because I have diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, eveything and that’s why it scares me when I feel it in my chest.”

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Armando Meza said it is possible for patients who recover from the virus to get re-infected.

“Now will everyone respond the same? The answer is no — most patients will respond with a defense response that will protect them from getting infected again,” Meza said.

However, there is a difference between re-infection and long-term effects from the initial positive test.

“We know the testing will pick up virus particles, it doesnt pick up the whole virus, so most of the patients who will have a positive test once they have clinically recovered is because they just have remnants in their nose and other parts,” Dr. Meza said.

Meza said studies show patients can get the virus again after three to four months after the first infection.

However, he is optimistic a vaccine will help.

“On the good side, the vaccination that is demonstrated to be highly effective actually will assure the response of the antibodies we produce will be stronger,” Meza said.

With some vaccine producers like Pfizer and Moderna showing promise, vaccines aren’t expected to be available to the general public anytime soon.

“Do not lower your guard — you still have to be careful even if you got infected the first time, so something like wearing a mask is something that we’re probably going to have to do for another year, plus,” Meza said.

Meanwhile, Rubio shared a warning to the community as she fights the virus a second time.

“There’s so many things going on, you can get it again. I got it, so people just need to just be careful and know that you can get it again,” Rubio said.

Meza said since the virus is relatively new, the CDC and other medical experts are working on studies to learn more about re-infections.

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