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Coronavirus might have been spreading in Houston before doctors knew what it was

HOUSTON – The first day we knew about the “community spread” of coronavirus was the day the rodeo was canceled on March 11, 2020.

Now, many of you are getting antibody tests and finding out you’ve had coronavirus but claim symptoms happened early in March, or before then. The virus started in Wuhan, China in November.

Some doctors now think back to early in the year, after people returned from holiday travel, and think what appeared to be a respiratory virus going around, might have been coronavirus the whole time.

"Oh yes, definitely, there’s no question about it. The thing is that we didn’t have a way to test patients at that time so we didn’t know. But if you had a COVID-related like illness in January or February, and your antibodies are positive, obviously you got it. So, as more data comes to be available we’ll be learning more about this but yeah that’s definitely a possibility,” said UT Health Infectious Disease Specialist Rodrigo Hasbun, MD.

For example, Houston mom Layla Campbell said her antibody test last week proves she had it. She said she developed symptoms after attending a basketball game on Jan. 31.

Professor of Infectious Diseases at UT Health Luis Ostrosky, MD, said results like these help doctors with a very important mystery.

“We hear about people that had hospitalizations, some died, without a clear-cut explanation in January or February. We won’t really know if they had corona or not unless we have samples from that time," Ostrosky said.

That means in time, we could know for sure when coronavirus got here but Ostrosky said they’re looking for specific autopsy results and samples from early this year and they’ve yet to find what they need.