ORLANDO, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said human metapneumovirus – also known as HMPV – filled intensive care units with children and seniors this spring.
Here are 9 things to know about the virus:
1. HMPV is related to RSV, and it makes people feel just as sick as the flu.
2. CNN reported that HMPV is the second most common illness in children, behind RSV.
3. Just like RSV and the flu, HMPV can cause people to be admitted to intensive care units and can cause deadly cases of pneumonia in older people.
4. It was first discovered in 2001 by Dutch virus hunters who looked at 28 samples collected from children who had unexplained respiratory infections in the Netherlands. The children had not tested positive for any known illnesses but all had been so sick that they needed to be put on ventilators.
5. A study published in 2020 in Lancet Global Health found more than 14 million cases of HMPV infections in kids younger than 5 years old. Of those cases, more than 600,000 children were hospitalized and more than 16,000 died, CNN reported.
6. According to the CDC, symptoms commonly associated with HMPV include cough, fever, nasal congestion, and shortness of breath. Symptoms of HMPV infection may progress to bronchitis or pneumonia and are similar to other viruses that cause upper and lower respiratory infections. The estimated incubation period is 3 to 6 days, and the median duration of illness can vary depending upon severity but is similar to other respiratory infections caused by viruses.
7. The CDC says HMPV is most likely spread from an infected person to others through:
- secretions from coughing and sneezing
- close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- touching objects or surfaces that have the viruses on them then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes
8. In the U.S., the CDC said HMPV circulates in distinct annual seasons. HMPV circulation begins in winter and lasts until or through spring. The CDC said HMPV, RSV, and influenza can spread simultaneously during the respiratory virus season.
9. Currently, there is no specific antiviral therapy to treat HMPV and no vaccine to prevent HMPV. The CDC says medical care is supportive. However, patients can help prevent the spread of HMPV and other respiratory viruses by following these steps:
- Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
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