The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported a surge in cases of human metapneumovirus (HMPV) this spring. HMPV is a respiratory virus that closely mimics symptoms of other respiratory viruses such as the flu and respiratory syncytial virus. Because of this, patients are not typically tested for HMPV unless they are admitted to the emergency room.
The CDC has stated that “since HMPV is a recently recognized respiratory virus, healthcare professionals may not routinely consider or test for HMPV.” However, they recommend that healthcare professionals should consider testing for HMPV during the winter and spring months when it is most commonly circulating.
The symptoms of HMPV include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and body aches. In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Like other respiratory viruses, HMPV is spread through respiratory secretions like saliva or mucus from an infected person when they cough or sneeze.
While many cases of HMPV are mild and resolve on their own, some individuals are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms. This includes young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Anyone experiencing difficulty breathing or chest pain should seek medical attention immediately.
In order to prevent the spread of HMPV, the CDC recommends washing hands frequently with soap and water, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when feeling ill.
There is currently no specific treatment for HMPV, but supportive care can help manage symptoms. This includes staying hydrated, taking fever-reducing medications, and getting plenty of rest.
As with other viruses, the best way to protect oneself from HMPV is to get vaccinated against the flu. The flu vaccine will not protect against HMPV specifically, but it can help reduce the risk of contracting and spreading other respiratory viruses.
If you are experiencing symptoms of HMPV, it is important to seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the spread of the virus and manage symptoms for a quicker recovery.
As the number of cases of HMPV continue to rise, it is important for healthcare professionals to consider testing for this virus during the winter and spring months. By taking necessary precautions and being vigilant about symptoms, we can work together to prevent the spread of HMPV and other respiratory viruses.