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HMPV: the little known virus that’s making its mark in intensive care

BMJ 2023; 381 doi: (Published 07 June 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;381:p1299
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. Kent

US health officials have warned about a recent spike in cases of human metapneumovirus (hMPV). Jacqui Wise looks at the virus that may not be on everyone’s radar

What is hMPV?

Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is a respiratory pathogen closely related to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). First identified by Dutch researchers in 2001, hMPV is a leading cause of acute lower respiratory infections in young children. Symptoms are similar to RSV, covid-19, and flu, and include a runny nose, cough, temperature, sore throat, and wheezing. It is associated with a range of illnesses from mild infection to severe bronchiolitis and pneumonia

Why is it in the news?

The US saw a spike in hMPV detections during the first few months of 2023 according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s respiratory virus surveillance systems.1 This led to reports of hospital intensive care units filling up with very young children and elderly patients. At its peak in mid-March, one in 10 …

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