March 2020 New York Post

A 20-year-old American woman who tested positive for the novel coronavirus said she suffered symptoms that hadn’t previously been associated with the infection, including hearing loss. Julia Buscaglia — who was staying in Italy when she first started showing symptoms — decided to share her story in a now-viral Twitter thread because “others are reporting very different experiences than mine,” she wrote. “I guess why I’m telling you all of this is because what they are telling you are symptoms are not ALL symptoms,” she added. “And you do NOT have to have the symptoms to be positive. The only symptom I had that was similar was a fever.”

Signature symptoms of the illness typically appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. Buscaglia said she first felt sick on Feb. 29 — but said the only matching symptom was her fever. “I woke up this day in agony,” Buscaglia wrote. “My head was pounding, my ears throbbing, and it felt as if my throat was on fire. My body ached, I had chills, and I had a fever of 100.2. I took over the counter anti-inflammatories and stayed in bed the entire day.”

On March 1, she said, she woke up feeling better but decided to see a doctor because of the escalating coronavirus concerns in Italy. The doctor said she simply had a cold — but then she began to lose hearing in her left ear, despite having no cough, she wrote. The next day, “hearing in both ears was significantly less,” and she said she could feel phlegm in the back of her throat, but simply brushed it off as a cold symptom. “As Italy was starting to become a place of concern, our program urged us to return home,” she wrote.

Her condition worsened on her last full day in Italy. “I still couldn’t hear, and at this point I lost all ability to taste and smell, yet I did not have a runny nose or cough,” she wrote. “I had a headache constantly during the day which I just treated with Tylenol. I left the next morning to return to America.” The loss of taste and smell has recently come to be associated with the disease.

Buscaglia arrived back in the US on March 4 — which she calls “the day I look back on and get scared. I flew home, and not a single person asked where I had been,” she wrote. “Not even at customs. They didn’t blink an eye at me. I had layovers in LARGE cities.”

Buscaglia remained at home from March 5 to 13 and only had contact with two people. She said she experienced a wet cough — not a dry one typically associated with the infection. On March 13, she was tested for COVID-19. “I was not planning on being tested,” she posted. “However, members of my family work in health care & wanted to be sure before returning to work.”

The next day — with no symptoms aside from “a slight remaining cough” — Buscaglia got the call that she had tested positive.

“My jaw DROPPED,” she said. “How was I positive? I didn’t have the symptoms on the news, I got cleared by a doctor, and no one cared at customs [that] I had come from a high risk country.”

Though Buscaglia said she feels “completely healthy right now,” she is remaining in quarantine until she tests negative twice. She doesn’t know how she got infected. “I want you to understand many individuals my age are not showing symptoms,” she posted. “I know we joke and laugh about not having this virus. But this is not a joke anymore.”

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