The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently reported that Human Metapneumovirus (HMPV) has filled intensive care units with children and seniors this spring. HMPV is a viral respiratory illness that is closely related to Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). It is capable of causing severe respiratory illness in people, similar to influenza.
CNN has reported that HMPV is the second most common illness in children, behind RSV. Just like RSV and the flu, HMPV can cause people to be admitted to intensive care units, and in the case of older patients, it can lead to deadly cases of pneumonia.
The virus was first identified in 2001 by Dutch virus hunters who analysed 28 samples collected from children in the Netherlands with unexplained respiratory infections. These children had not tested positive for any known illnesses but all had been seriously ill and needed to be placed on ventilators.
A study published in Lancet Global Health in 2020 found that more than 14 million cases of HMPV infections were recorded in children under 5 years old, with over 600,000 hospitalizations and over 16,000 deaths.
The CDC has stated that the symptoms commonly associated with HMPV include cough, fever, nasal congestion, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may progress to bronchitis or pneumonia, similar to other viruses that cause upper and lower respiratory infections.
According to reports, the average incubation period for HMPV is around three to six days, and the median duration of illness can vary depending upon severity but is similar to other respiratory infections caused by viruses. Additionally, the CDC states that HMPV circulates in distinct annual seasons, beginning in the winter and lasting throughout spring.
It is essential to note that HMPV, RSV, and influenza can spread simultaneously. Therefore, individuals who develop any of the symptoms associated with HMPV, RSV, and/or influenza should seek immediate medical attention to prevent potential complications.
As of this moment, the CDC has not approved of the COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 12 years.