I do a huge amount of continuing medical education, in part to continue to be licensed as a registered nurse in a number of states, some of which have different educational requirements than others, for continued licensure, and in part because I have a personal interest. In the past couple of years, for the purpose of being able to compound medication for both humans and veterinary uses, I also obtained a credential as a pharmacy technician. I hold certification in every state, and a license to practice in my home state. Of course, there is a fair chunk of continuing education involved in that too. This is why it is surprising that I had absolutely not completed any continuing education which mentioned this.
HMPV or Human Metapneumovirus was first discovered in 2001. It is a leading cause of respiratory infection within the world. It is a relative of RSV or respiratory syncytial virus, which is a virus that can leave a premature child or young child with asthma for a lifetime, if he or she is to contract it as a youngster. Both of my youngest sons had RSV in the 1990s and were therefore afflicted, thankfully only with mild asthma. Both RSV and HMPV are members of the paramyxovirus family.
HMPV can afflict people of absolutely any age and can impact both the upper respiratory and lower respiratory tree. It's incubation period after exposure is between 3-6 days and degree of illness is variable. Although it is a significant respiratory infection, sufferers may also have conjunctivitis. In the US, winter and spring are the times of year that are most likely times to contract it. One can contract it from coughs, sneezes, shaking hands, or from objects one might touch that were also touched by infected persons. Prevention is therefore important. As yet, we have no specific treatment or immunization for it.
Prevention is therefore focused on:
1. Diligent handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap.
2. Avoiding those who are sick. Staying home if you are.
3. Avoiding kissing. Avoiding the use of utensils and cups which belong to others.
4. Covering your nose and mouth while sneezing.
5. Avoiding those who are sick and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, mouth or face.
6. Daily cleaning of your counters, sinks, doorknobs etc. can help to prevent spread throughout your home.
We do have specific lab tests which can ascertain whether or not you have HMPV. This is a common respiratory infection, and could easily be confused with COVID-19. Although an infection with HMPV can produce a pneumonia and can conceivably kill infants, the elderly or those with a concurrent medical problem, most of the time, patients overcome this infection. It's important to mention this because this infection can "muddy the waters" with COVID-19 concerns. Those who reside in nursing homes, prisons etc., in close proximity may be at most risk for spread and for potential complications.
Autumn and then winter are on their way. It is important to know that a persistent respiratory infection should be seen by your physician so that it can be differentiated between other infections. COVID-19 for example may require different treatment than the supportive care necessary in HMPV.
Authoritative information on HMPV