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The human metapneumovirus at the origin of an infectious peak



Discovered in 2022, this RNA virus belongs to the paramyxovirus family and circulates seasonally.

As the Covid pandemic recedes, American doctors and scientists are alarmed at the importance that the human metapneumovirus (HMPV) could take on in the short term.

Indeed, US health authorities have observed an upsurge in cases, with 11% of patients tested within the hospital system testing positive there.

36% increase from seasonal peak

And this would correspond, according to their estimates, to an increase of 36% compared to the seasonal peak of HMPV noted before the Covid pandemic, which then stood at 7%.

Discovered in 2021, this virus circulates seasonally with a peak in spread at the end of winter. It is the cause of symptoms relating to any respiratory infection: sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, fever.

Pneumonia for severe cases

If all this seems very benign, these signs can degenerate into pneumonia among the most fragile population. Children among the youngest, seniors and immunocompromised people are most at risk of developing serious symptoms requiring hospitalization.

A 2013 study concluded that 5 to 10% of hospitalizations for respiratory infections in adults over 50 are due to human metapneumovirus. And there is no vaccine to date.

A poorly understood virus

As we mentioned above, it was not until 2001 that HMPV was isolated. But researchers estimate that it has been in circulation for several decades, passing under all radars.

But now, by virtue of screening techniques which have improved, we know that it is a significant source of respiratory tract infections in children, but also among the adult population.

How to prevent it? As with Covid and countless infections, hygiene and distancing gestures, wearing a mask, make it possible to break the chain of transmission of the virus.

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