Understanding Human Metapneumovirus (hMPV): Symptoms, Spread, Diagnosis, and Prevention
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a respiratory infection, it’s important to understand the different types of viruses that can cause them. One such virus is human metapneumovirus (hMPV), which can cause upper and lower respiratory infections in people of all ages. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at hMPV and discuss its symptoms, spread, diagnosis, and prevention.
Symptoms of hMPV
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
When to See a Doctor
If symptoms worsen and a person develops shortness of breath, severe cough, or wheezing, they should see a doctor. Most people experiencing mild hMPV symptoms do not need to see a doctor, as the illness should go away on its own and supportive care of symptoms at home is enough.
Spread of hMPV
- Secretions from coughing and sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching objects or surfaces that have the viruses on them then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes
Surveillance data from the National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) shows hMPV to be most active during late winter and spring in temperate climates. In the USA, hMPV circulation begins in winter and lasts until or through spring. hMPV, RSV, and influenza can circulate simultaneously during the respiratory virus season.
Diagnosis of hMPV
Physical Exam and Patient History
To diagnose a respiratory infection, a doctor will complete a physical and patient history and may order lab tests to confirm the type of virus causing the illness. In very few severe hospitalized cases, doctors may do a bronchoscopy where a small, flexible camera is inserted into the lung, and a sample of fluid is removed to test for viruses.
Infection with hMPV can be confirmed usually by direct detection of viral genome by polymerase chain reaction assays and direct detection of viral antigens in respiratory secretions using immunofluorescence or enzyme immunoassay.
Treatment and Prevention of hMPV
Currently, there is no specific antiviral therapy to treat hMPV, and no vaccine to prevent it. Medical care is supportive. However, patients can take steps to help prevent the spread of hMPV and other respiratory viruses.
- Wash hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
- Stay at home when sick.
In healthcare settings, healthcare providers should follow CDC’s guidelines for Isolation Precautions to prevent transmission of infectious agents in healthcare settings.
Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is a respiratory virus that can cause upper and lower respiratory infections in people of all ages. While there is no specific treatment or vaccine for hMPV, patients can take steps to help prevent the spread of the virus, such as frequent handwashing and staying at home when sick. Patients with more severe symptoms should seek medical attention.
1. Can hMPV cause pneumonia?
Yes, hMPV can cause pneumonia.
2. How is hMPV diagnosed?
hMPV can be diagnosed through lab tests that confirm the type of virus causing the illness.
3. Is there a vaccine for hMPV?
Currently, there is no vaccine for hMPV.
4. What should I do if I think I have hMPV?
If you are experiencing symptoms of hMPV, stay at home, and rest. If your symptoms worsen, seek medical attention.
5. What steps can I take to prevent the spread of hMPV?
Wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with sick people, cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and stay at home when sick.