RALEIGH, N.C. -- Doctors are keeping a closer eye on a little-known virus this season.
According to the CDC reports of cases of the human metapneumovirus or hMPV spiked this spring.
CDC officials report hMPV cases spiked 36 percent higher than average this season, particularly for young children and seniors.
"This is one of many respiratory viruses that we see, such as flu and RSV," explained Dr. David Weber, a professor and Medical Director in Infectious Diseases at UNC Health.
"The major symptoms are cough, running nose, fever. It's also prone to give you some wheezing, particularly if you have underlying asthma.
And, unlike most, but not all, of the respiratory viruses you can get a persistent cough and wheezing that can last several weeks, as opposed to just, you know, getting better after three, four or five days," Weber said.
Weber says hMPV typically goes away on its own but for those vulnerable, the spike is a reminder to stay vigilant.
"If you do develop respiratory symptoms, then, I think you should ideally test yourself for COVID," Weber explained. "Because we have specific therapies there."
"We do have oral medications, for instance, just in the past week Paxlovid, our main oral medication got full FDA approval. And, certainly, if you continue to be symptomatic, get to your healthcare provider to get tested for influenza because, again, we have specific therapies for that, particularly if you have a weakened, immune system, are very young or very old."
There are no antiviral therapies to treat hMPV and no vaccines are available. Weber says over-the-counter cold meds at home can be used to treat symptoms, but, you should see a healthcare provider if symptoms worsen.
Weber adds with hMPV and other viruses, lessons learned in the pandemic can help prevent the spread.