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Suspected COVID-19 Reinfections at a Tertiary Care Center, Iowa 2020

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2021

Abstract

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Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected by real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for several weeks after infection. Discerning persistent RT-PCR positivity versus reinfection is challenging and the frequency of COVID-19 reinfections is unknown. We aimed to determine the frequency of clinically suspected reinfection in our center and confirm reinfection using viral whole-genome sequencing (WGS). Methods: The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) is an 811-bed academic medical center. Patients with respiratory complaints undergo COVID-19 RT-PCR using nasopharyngeal swabs. The RT-PCR (TaqPath COVID-19 Combo kit) uses 3 targets (ORF1ab, S gene, and N gene). We identified patients with previous laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who sought care for new respiratory complaints and underwent a repeated SARS-CoV-2 test at least 45 days from their first positive test. We then identified patients with median RT-PCR cycle threshold (Ct) values. Results: During the study period, 13,603 patients had a SARS-CoV-2– positive RT-PCR. Of these, 296 (2.2%) had a clinical visit for new onset of symptoms and a repeated RT-PCR assay >45 days from the first test. Moreover, 29 patients (9.8%) had a positive RT-PCR assay in the repeated testing. Ct values were available for samples from 25 patients; 7 (28%) had Ct values. Conclusions: In patients with a recent history of COVID-19 infection, repeated testing for respiratory symptoms was infrequent. Some had a SARS-CoV-2–positive RT-PCR assay on repeated testing, but only 1 in 4 had Ct values suggestive of a reinfection. We confirmed 1 case of reinfection using WGS.

Funding: No

Disclosures: None

Type
COVID-19
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BY
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
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