Newer Virus Rivals Flu for Hospitalization Rate
Metapneumovirus is putting as many American children under the age of 5 in the hospital as influenza, researchers have found.
The virus sends one out of every 1,000 children to the hospital every year. The infection is more likely to appear in association with pneumonia or asthma and require supplemental oxygen and longer stays in an intensive care unit, reports Dr. John Williams of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
The virus was discovered more than a decade ago, making it more than 2,000 years younger than influenza. It is in the same family as “measles and [respiratory syncytial virus], the most common cause of lower respiratory infection in children,” Williams told MedPage Today.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
The authors noted that human metapneumovirus was discovered in 2001 and is associated with acute respiratory illness among infants and children, and also hospitalizes older adults and patients with underlying chronic conditions such as asthma, cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They also noted that the disease burden among pediatric patients was not well established.
… “This [virus] is very common and all doctors are seeing it even if they can’t test for it,” Williams said. “In children around the world, respiratory illnesses are one of the leading causes of death. It’s clear there’s a real potential for benefit with development of vaccines or drugs.”