Last Updated: June 01, 2023, 15:49 IST
Washington D.C., United States of America (USA)
In the past winter, the respiratory viruses like RSV and Covid-19 made the headlines, but this summer a virus is on the rise in the US and causing flu and lung infection among the patients.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s respiratory virus surveillance systems has warned that cases of human metapneumovirus, or HMPV, has spiked this spring, CNN reported.
In March, around 11% of tested specimens were positive for HMPV, raising concerns in US. According to a study, it was the second most common cause of respiratory infections in kids behind Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
Here is all you need to know about the Human Metapneumovirus or HMPV:
- Human metapneumovirus can cause upper and lower respiratory disease in people regardless of age, especially among young children, old people and those with weakened immune systems.
- HMPV symptoms include cough, fever, nasal congestion and shortness of breath.
- Currently, the virus has filled hospital intensive care units with young children and old people. During its peak in mid-March, around 11% of tested specimens were positive for HMPV, a number that’s about 36% higher than the average, pre-pandemic seasonal peak of 7% test positivity.
- The infection may progress among patients to develop bronchitis or pneumonia and the symptoms 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, the CDC said.
- HMPV is most likely to spread from an infected person to others through coughing, sneezing, close personal contact like touching or shaking hands and touching objects or surfaces that have the viruses on them.
- The circulation of the virus begins in winter and lasts until or through spring. Dr John Williams, a pediatrician at the University of Pittsburgh, called it, “the most important virus you’ve never heard of.” Human metapneumovirus is infecting a significant proportion of patients, as many cases as RSV or influenza.
- Unlike Covid-19 or flu, there is no specific antiviral therapy to treat HMPV and no vaccine to prevent HMPV. Instead, the doctors can treat seriously ill patients by treating to their symptoms.
- The precautions against the virus are similar to other viral diseases like washing hands, avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hand and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- A study conducted in New York over four winters discovered that HMPV was as common among older patients in hospitals as RSV and the flu. It was also responsible for fatal cases of pneumonia in older people.