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Learn About Human Metapneumovirus (hMPV)

Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is a leading cause of acute respiratory infection. It was identified in 2001 by scientists in the Netherlands.

Key Facts

  • Children, people with weakened immune systems and the elderly are most susceptible to developing complications from hMPV infection.
  • hPMV is spread by close contact with an infected individual or by coming in contact with a contaminated area.
  • hMPV usually causes symptoms similar to the common cold that last roughly 2-5 days and go away on their own.
  • Most children who get infected with hMPV are age 5 or younger. A small number of children (5-16%) infected will develop a lower respiratory tract infection such as pneumonia.

What Causes hMPV?

hMPV is most commonly spread from person to person through close contact with someone who is infected via secretions from coughing and sneezing or touching objects such as toys or doorknobs that have the virus on them. In the United States, hMPV is more likely to circulate during the winter and spring months when other similar infections, such as RSV and the flu, are prevalent.

Who Is at Risk?

hMPV can cause upper and lower respiratory disease in patients of all ages. However, it is most common in young children and the elderly in whom it is more likely to develop into bronchiolitis, bronchitis or pneumonia.

Though a history of asthma, COPD, emphysema or any other lung disease does not make someone more likely to contract the illness, once they have it, these lung diseases can make symptoms more severe. This is also true for people with weakened immune systems, including patients undergoing chemotherapy or post organ transplant.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: March 5, 2020

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