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Symptoms of Pleurisy as the Initial Presentation of COVID-19

Christopher Oleynick

(Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e925775

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.925775

BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the virus responsible for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected more than 8 million people worldwide and placed massive strains on healthcare systems around the world. Although classically causing cough, fever, and shortness of breath, increasing evidence suggests that manifestations of COVID-19 can be more subtle or masquerade as other clinical entities.
CASE REPORT: A 48-year-old man with hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus presented to the Emergency Department with acute-onset pleuritic chest pain that had developed 1 day earlier and was found to be hypoxemic, requiring supplemental oxygen. He was admitted under the internal medicine service and underwent an extensive workup for his chest pain and hypoxemia, including a negative computed tomography scan with pulmonary embolism protocol, negative nuclear medicine ventilation/perfusion scan, normal electrocardiogram, and normal echocardiography. In the end, he was diagnosed with viral pleuritis as the diagnosis of exclusion. Our patient subsequently developed a fever and shortness of breath and his nasopharyngeal swab performed on admission to hospital returned positive for COVID-19. The patient’s pleuritic pain and oxygen requirements improved with supportive management over the next several days.
CONCLUSIONS: I report a patient who experienced pleuritic chest pain from viral pleurisy that was the initial manifestation of COVID-19 which, to the best of my knowledge, has not yet been reported in the literature. This case report further emphasizes that COVID-19 may present with atypical symptoms. It is crucial to be aware of these atypical presentations of COVID-19 so that patients are appropriately identified, isolated, and treated, while protecting health care workers from exposure.

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