Doctors say this is the most dangerous virus you've never heard of
Last winter was a severe winter for respiratory viruses, dominated by increases in RSV, influenza and Covid-19. But an unknown virus was also infecting people en masse.
Cases of human metapneumovirus, or HMPV, increased this spring, according to the FDA's respiratory virus surveillance systems. It filled hospital intensive care units with young children and the elderly who are most at risk of these infections.
Unlike Covid-19 and the flu, there is no vaccine for HMPV or antiviral drugs to treat it. Instead, doctors treat seriously ill people by treating their symptoms.
Diane Davison was infected with human metapneumovirus during a family holiday in early April. Two weeks later, she was coughing so hard she couldn't talk on the phone.
"I couldn't speak more than two words," said Davison, 59, a Baltimore lawyer. "I started coughing to the point where I was literally almost bleeding."
Her cough was so constant and deep that she was convinced she had finally caught the coronavirus after managing to avoid it throughout the pandemic. But she took six rapid tests for Covid-19 and all came back negative.
Blood tests determined she had HMPV.
Human metapneumovirus was discovered by Dutch virus hunters in 2001.