What is the metapneumovirus that worries the United States?

Home What is the metapneumovirus that worries the United States?
Written by Doug Hampton

the essential
The metapneumovirus is spreading more and more on American soil. Recognized for twenty years, this virus attacks the respiratory tract like the flu or Covid-19. It affects many young children and more and more adults over the age of 50.

The metapneumovirus has been under the radar for years. But in 2023, the United States was marked by a spring of respiratory infections among the youngest. It has only been discovered since 2001 by researchers in the Netherlands, but some scientists say they could be circulating for more than 50 years.

This virus causes significant respiratory tract infections in the youngest. Almost all children under the age of 5 on American soil have already contracted this virus, but also some adults.

And the American medical profession believes that this virus could grow in importance in the coming years. Cases have increased in the United States from 7% of patients with this virus tested in hospitals before the pandemic to nearly 11% during the peak of the epidemic.

Symptoms similar to the flu or Covid-19

According to the authorities, many people are infected with this virus without knowing it. The National Library of Medicine study shows that 5 to 10% of hospitalizations for a respiratory infection in adults over 50 are due to metapneumovirus.

The symptoms generated by the metapneumovirus are quite similar to those of Covid-19 or the flu: cough, runny nose, sore throat, respiratory tract infection and fever. This virus mainly affects children under 5, but can affect those over 50 with more serious effects, including respiratory distress or fatal pneumonia.

According to the National Library of Medicine study, scientists believe the virus likely passed through birds that were infected with an avian metapneumovirus, similar to the one that affects humans. For the moment, no vaccine exists for this virus.

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