HMPV is more likely to circulate during the winter and spring months. (Representative pic)
Although the cases of Covid-19 and RSV are falling, another respiratory virus called human metapneumovirus, or HMPV, is spreading across the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week reported an uptick in HMPV cases throughout the country. The organisation said that at its peak in mid-March, nearly 11 percent of tested specimens were positive for HMPV, a number that's about 36 percent higher than the average pre-pandemic levels.
According to CNN, most people who caught the virus probably didn't know they had it and sick people are not usually tested for it outside of a hospital or ER. Unlike Covid and the flu, there is also no vaccine for HMPV or antiviral drugs to treat it. Instead, doctors care for seriously ill people by tending to their symptoms.
Now, here's everything to know about the respiratory virus that flew under everyone's radar:
Human metapneumovirus, or HMPV, is an infection that affects the upper and respiratory tract, as per CDC. While the virus can affect people of all ages, the organisation said young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.
HMPV was first discovered in 2001 and belongs to the Pneumoviridae family, which also includes respiratory syncytial virus, the CDC said. People infected with HMPV typically experience mild symptoms similar to a cold. The symptoms last about two to five days and usually resolve on their own in healthy individuals. The most common symptoms, according to CDC, include cough, fever, nasal congestion and shortness of breath.
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Like most respiratory viruses, HMPV is commonly spread from person to person through close contact with an infected individual, coughing, sneezing and touching objects that have the virus on them.
In its report, the CDC stated that the virus is more likely to circulate during the winter and spring months, like the flu, RSV and cold viruses. It also added that currently, there is no specific treatment or vaccine available for human metapneumovirus (HMPV). Therefore, the primary approach to prevention involves good hygiene, such as covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and frequent handwashing.