UW-Madison confirmed Friday that recovered students have been reinfected with COVID-19, though county and city-wide reinfection cases remain low.
“It has been documented that individuals can be infected with COVID-19 a second time,” UW-Madison Communications Director Meredith McGlone said. “We have seen a small number of instances of this in the campus community.”
Public Health Madison & Dane County has documented only four cases of reinfection in the surrounding Dane County area. Since reinfection cases are rare, the health department has no information on the possibility of different strains being responsible for the second infections.
The “immunity period” following recovery has been previously reported to only last a few months, though recent studies have shown that the body’s immunological memory might last a long as 8 months after infection. Regardless, these cases appear to be reinfection — not a flare-up of a previous infection.
While there is no widely accepted definition of what constitutes SARS-CoV-2 reinfection, the Center for Disease Control recommends investigating positive results from individuals with or without COVID-19–like symptoms greater than or equal to 90 days after the initial infection.
McGlone pointed to UW-Madison’s testing protocols, stating “this is also why the university requires people who’ve had COVID to resume testing after 90 days.”
UW-Madison reminds all students, even those that have recently recovered, to continue wearing masks, avoiding gatherings and practicing physical distancing and good hygiene.