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Human Metapneumovirus (hMPV) Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

What Are the Symptoms of hMPV?

Patients with hMPV usually have no symptoms (asymptomatic) or mild symptoms similar to a cold (an upper respiratory tract infection). These include:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough

Young children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system may develop a more severe illness with hMPV. These include:

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma flare-up
  • Poor feeding (in children under 1 year of age)

What Causes hMPV?

The cause of hMPV is a virus that is spread through contact with someone who has an active infection. You are not more likely to get infection if you have a history of asthma, COPD, emphysema or any other lung disease, but you may have more severe symptoms. Likewise, conditions that compromise your immune system like cancer or transplantation do not increase your risk of getting an infection. However, once infected, your risk of having severe symptoms might be increased due to these other diseases.

What Are the Risk Factors?

The only known risk factor for hMPV is exposure to someone who has the infection. There is no known associated risk with other lung diseases, or smoking but symptoms may be more troublesome and pneumonia more likely to develop in patients with the following conditions:

  • Asthma using inhaled or oral steroids
  • Child under year 1
  • Adults over age 65
  • Transplantation
  • Long-term steroid use
  • COPD

When to See Your Doctor

Most people with hMPV who have upper respiratory tract infection "cold" symptoms do not need to see a doctor. However, if you develop shortness of breath, severe cough, wheezing, or inability to feed or care for oneself, you should see your doctor.

    This content was developed in partnership with the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians.

    Page Last Updated: July 29, 2019

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