What you should know about HMPV?

chinacdc.cn | Updated: 2023-06-26
What is the HMPV virus?
Human metapneumovirus (HMPV), belonging to the Pneumoviridae, Metapneumovirus genus, is an enveloped single-stranded negative-sense RNA virus.
In 2001, it was first detected by Dutch scholars in nasopharyngeal aspirate samples of children with respiratory infections caused by unknown pathogens. Serological studies have shown that it has existed for at least 60 years, being distributed all over the world as a common respiratory pathogen.
What are the epidemic characteristics of HMPV?
HMPV is mainly transmitted through droplets or aerosols produced by coughing and sneezing. Close contact with infected people and exposure to virus-contaminated environments may also cause transmission. 
Generally speaking, the incubation period after infection is about three to five days, and the immune protection induced by HMPV is too weak to curb repeated infection. HMPV can be detected throughout the year, but the detection rate is highest in winter and spring. In addition, HMPV infection can also cause outbreaks.
What is the fatality rate of HMPV infection?
Children, immunocompromised populations and the elderly are susceptible and they are more likely to be co-infected with other respiratory viruses. HMPV often causes common cold symptoms, manifested as cough, fever, nasal congestion and wheezing, but sometimes it can result in bronchitis and pneumonia in severe cases.
In susceptible individuals with underlying medical conditions, HMPV infection can lead to death. Based on data from an article published in Lancet Global Health in 2021, one percent of acute lower respiratory infection-related deaths in children under age five can be attributed to HMPV. Currently, there is no vaccine or effective medication against HMPV, and treatment is mostly focused on alleviating symptoms.
What's the epidemic situation of HMPV in China?
According to the analysis done by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on the monitoring data of respiratory infectious diseases from 2009 to 2019, HMPV ranked eighth among the eight viruses that cause acute respiratory infections, with a positive rate of 4.1 percent, which is far lower than the 28.5 percent rate of the influenza virus.
How to prevent it?
Maintain a regular lifestyle and stay in a good mood. Wear a mask when going to crowded places. Also, frequent hand washing, ventilation, and scientific disinfection can effectively reduce the chance of HMPV infection.