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Virus surging in this Aussie state: Here’s what you need to know

Cases of a potentially deadly virus you’ve likely never heard of have surged in one Aussie state.

Video transcript

- Cases of a potentially deadly virus you've likely never heard of have surged in one Aussie state. Here's what you need to know. Human metapneumovirus is making its way across New South Wales, with New South Wales Health data stating the virus was detected in 1,168 people in the last week.

Dr. Nick Coatsworth told 2GB, "hMPV is the virus you've never heard of but a virus that all of us have most certainly had. It's one of the common cold viruses that circulates every single year, and New South Wales seems to be going through a little uptick at the moment." According to the CDC, hMPV can cause upper and lower respiratory disease in people of all ages, especially among young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

The virus also seems to be most active during late winter and spring. Symptoms include nasal congestion, shortness of breath, cough, and fever but may progress to bronchitis or pneumonia. While there isn't a specific antiviral therapy to treat hMPV, symptoms can usually be managed at home. A spokesperson for New South Wales Health told the Sydney Morning Herald, case numbers were likely to be underestimated, as many people who contract the virus will not seek out a test.

The publication claims hMPV is more severe this year, potentially because of the removal of COVID mitigations, such as masking. University of New South Wales Professor William Rawlinson said, "It is a virus that can give you a fairly severe illness. And I think that partly is because we've all not been getting things like rhinovirus and influenza, RSV, and hMPV for the last three years. So we are seeing worse diseases. And we're not only seeing increased numbers, but we're also seeing people who we typically would think have a mild illness tending to have a more severe illness."