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Another respiratory virus spiking – what is HMPV?

Human metapneumovirus has many of the same symptoms as COVID and RSV



By Leada Gore

ATLANTA — Even as cases of COVID and RSV are falling, another respiratory virus that brings with it many of the same symptoms is circulating.

Just under 20% of antigen tests and nearly 11% of PCR tests for human metapneumovirus, or HMPV, were positive in the US in early March, Insider reported. The 11% positivity rate for PCR tests is up 36% from before the COVID-19 pandemic when the positivity rate was around 7%. Percentages remained high throughout April before starting to fall in May.

Positivity rates have declined in the warmer months, similar to that seen for colds and flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HMPV can impact the upper and lower respiratory tracts of all ages, but especially among young children, older adults and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include cough, fever, nasal congestion, and shortness of breath.

Serious cases can progress to bronchitis or pneumonia.

Incubation period for HMPV is 3-6 days and duration of the illness often depends on severity but is similar to other respiratory infections such as colds.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for HMPV and the best prevention is through things such as washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough.

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