Infectious Diseases

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Metapneumovirus (hMPV)

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What is hMPV?

HMPV is a recently identified member of a family of viruses that also includes respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza virus.

How is hMPV spread?

The virus is mainly spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. A person can also pick up the virus by touching surfaces contaminated by nasal discharge or saliva from an infected person and then touching one’s own nose/mouth before washing their hands.

What are the symptoms of hMPV?

Most persons with hMPV infection have mild symptoms including cough, runny nose or nasal congestion, sore throat and fever. Infection with the hMPV can exacerbate symptoms in individuals with asthma, and may cause difficulty breathing and more severe respiratory illness in the very young, elderly or immunocompromised individuals. The virus may also be present with no clinical manifestations.

How soon do symptoms of hMVP appear?

It is believed most persons who become ill will do so 3 to 5 days after being exposed to this virus.

How is it diagnosed?

hMVP may be diagnosed in the laboratory when a sample of throat or nasal secretions is collected with a swab.

How is hMPV infection treated?

Supportive treatment of hMPV may include medications to minimize symptoms. Fever reducers, antihistamines, and treatments to improve breathing can be particularly helpful to provide comfort until the illness resolves.

Who is likely to get hMPV infection?

Though the virus can cause acute upper and lower respiratory tract infections in persons of all ages, the populations most at risk of severe disease and hospitalization are small children, immunocompromised individuals and the elderly.

How can you prevent the spread?

  • Effective hand washing will reduce the risk of getting the virus. Practice good hand washing especially after coming in contact with people who may have hMVP and after handling soiled tissues, or common touched surfaces such as door knobs and hand rails.
  • Practice good cough etiquette by coughing into your sleeve or into a tissue.
  • Clean and disinfect common touched surfaces at home and work.
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