Decoding the Human Metapneumovirus – Silent Danger | Inquirer

Decoding the Silent Danger of Human Metapneumovirus – Are You At Risk?

08:25 AM May 31, 2023

During the winter season, viruses like RSV and Influenza are on the rise, but there’s one pathogen that is silently circulating, the Human Metapneumovirus (hMPV).

Last week, reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed a rise in hMPV cases across the country this spring and winter. Experts say this can be due to the public’s easy access to test for various viruses.

An infectious disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Rick Malley, said, “There’s a much greater attention to identifying the cause of (infections) than we’ve ever had before.”

Dr. Malley believes the attention increase is due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He added, “The importance of other viruses and the diseases they cause have come to the floor, and that’s why I think you’re hearing more about this virus.”

So, what really is this silent respiratory virus? How can it affect us, and what measures can we do about it? Let’s delve into this metapneumovirus.

Understanding Metapneumovirus

Human Metapneumovirus (hMPV) is an infection that targets the upper respiratory tract, the CDC says. The agency also added that it can affect people of all ages.

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In addition, people with weak immune systems have more risk. Moreover, the Pneumoviridae family discovered hMPV in 2001. Along with this is a respiratory syncytial virus, according to the CDC.

Metapneumovirus Symptoms

According to the American Lung Association, patients with hMPV normally experience mild symptoms similar to colds. The symptoms can last from two to five days, and healthy individuals usually heal on their own.

According to the CDC, some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Shortness of breath

Older adults, young kids, and those with weak immune systems are more potentially at risk for having more serious diseases. Moreover, they can experience difficulty in breathing, wheezing, and asthma attacks.

In addition, the American Lung Association said the associated infections like pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and bronchitis can also develop and might need medical attention.

How Metapneumovirus is Transmitted?

Similar to other respiratory viruses, hMPV spreads through:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Close contact with infected persons
  • Touching objects with viruses on them

The CDC said that the virus is more likely to spread during colder seasons like winter and spring. This is similar to how the RSV and cold viruses circulate.

Is there a need for antibiotics?

According to a USA Today report, CDC says no particular therapy or vaccine prevents the virus. The American Lung Association noted that treatments normally include over-the-counter medicines to manage fever, pain, and congestion.

The treatments require simple medications because hMPV symptoms gradually clear up without heavy medications. In addition, patients experiencing wheezing should seek medical care.

The doctor may prescribe steroids and temporary inhalers, the American Lung Association advises. Furthermore, antibiotics are used to cure bacterial viruses and not viral ones.

However, Dr. Malley said hMPV comes with a greater risk of developing bacterial pneumonia that can be normally treated with antibiotics.

He added, “This virus is probably a very important co-conspirator in causing pneumonia, specifically pneumococcal pneumonia.”

Metapneumovirus Treatment

Metapneumovirus Treatment
While there are no specific medicines yet directly for hMPV treatment, knowing how to deal with the virus is essential. Here are some ways to reduce the symptoms and alleviate any discomfort.

Hydration: Drink lots of water and stay healthy by eating nutritious food. It is vital because fever, a normal hMPV symptom, can lead to dehydration

Fever control: Over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can reduce fever and discomfort.

Respiratory aid: In serious cases, especially in babies and individuals with weak immune systems, hospitalization might be needed. For more severe cases, mechanical ventilation and supplemental oxygen can be necessary.

Rest: Similar to most viral diseases, rest is vital to help the body battle infections.

Prevention of secondary viruses: In some cases, hMPV can expose individuals to secondary bacterial infections. Doctors might prescribe antibiotics in cases like these, but it won’t cure the viral infection.

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TAGS: CDC, respiratory illness, Trending
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