Human Metapneumovirus, HMPV, Has Surged Around 36% Higher In 2023

This Spring has been kind of a meta experience. And this isn’t referring to the owners of Facebook. No, there’s been a surge of the human metapneumovirus (HMPV). In fact, in mid-March at the height of the surge, over 19 percent of all respiratory secretion specimens polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tested and over 10 percent of those antigen-tested came back positive for HMPV. That mean that around 11 percent of all tested specimens came back positive for HMPV, which is approximately 36 percent above the seven percent that was the average peak each year prior this whole Covid-19 thing.

Yes, folks, 2023 saw yet another case of a respiratory virus surging beyond what it normally does. The influenza and respiratory syncytial viruses spiked much higher than in previous years this past Winter. Of course, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continued to do its spreading thing, too, because that’s what happens when you essentially don’t do a whole lot to prevent the virus from spreading. In fact, there was a good chance that respiratory viruses in general have spread a lot more this year than the previous two years because people were dropping Covid-19 precautions such as face mask use as if they were dirty underwear.

At the same time, many indoor locations have not really changed how well they keep their air circulated, filtered, and purified. If you are not sure if this is the case, try farting indoors and see how others in the room react over time. Of course, you may want to tell that it is the name of science first.

Even though Covid-19 precautions can also help prevent the transmission of HMPV, HMPV is not the same as SARS-CoV-2. Unlike the Covid-19 coronavirus, HMPV is not a novel virus, having been discovered in 2001, back when Rudi Giuliani was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and Björk wore a swan dress to the Academy Awards. HMPV has some pretty bad relatives, belonging to the same Pneumoviridae family as RSV.

When you get exposed to the HMPV, typically you will begin having respiratory symptoms such as a cough, fever, nasal congestion, and shortness of breath about three to six days later. Such symptoms most often will last from two to five days, resolving without treatment. HMPV infections can progress to something more severe like bronchitis or pneumonia but their hospitalization and death rates are not in the same ballpark as the Covid-19 hospitalization and mortality rate have been during the pandemic.

Plus, the transmission of HMPV is more a flu you situation. Like the flu virus, HMPV probably spreads largely via larger respiratory droplets emitted by coughing and sneezing, close direct physical contact, and touching contaminated objects or surfaces and touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. There’s currently no indication that HMPV can go all aerosol and hang in the air for extended periods of time like the SARS-CoV-2 can.

That doesn’t mean that the HMPV can’t cause problems. If you were to ask anyone, “Would you rather have a cough, fever, nasal congestion, and shortness of breath or not,” most people who aren’t tissue salespeople would answer, “Not.” Plus, some HMPV infections can progress to worse and even life-threatening illness, especially if your immune system or lungs are weaker. There is not specific medical treatment for HMPV infections. There’s no evidence that ivermectin or tin foil hats will do anything to reduce the duration or severity of infection.

The CDC does however recommend steps that you can take to prevent yourself from getting infected. One of them is, surprise, surprise, washing your hands regularly and thoroughly. This doesn’t mean waving jazz hands at the water. Instead, lather up with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Also, stop touching your darn eyes, nose, or mouth so much when your hands aren’t washed. Your face is not a fidget spinner.

The CDC also provides guidelines so that you are less likely to come into close contact with someone infected. For example, the CDC website says, “refrain from kissing others.” So, when you get good service at a restaurant, consider tipping instead. It will make it harder for the server to transmit any viruses to you and be less off-putting to your date. Also, don’t share cups, eating utensils, dentures, or Hannibal Lechter masks with anyone who may be sick. Keep high-touch surfaces and objects clean and disinfected.

There is currently no vaccine against HMPV. But researchers have been working on them. And, no, there doesn’t seem to be a plan to put microchips in them.

You may also like...