Study: Not all children with flu-like symptoms have the flu

BOSTON — According to research published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, not all respiratory ailments that generate influenza-like symptoms can be attributed to the flu. The human metapneumovirus — which is not a strain of influenza, is impervious to antiviral medicines like Tamiflu and does not have an available vaccine according to reports — causes just as many hospitalizations and outpatient visits among children as does the flu. 

In a study tracking almost 10,500 children who presented with acute respiratory illness or fever, HMPV infections represented 6% of the children who were hospitalized, 7% of the children treated for such symptoms in an outpatient clinic and 7% of children in the emergency room on account of those symptoms.

"Children hospitalized with HMPV infection, as compared with those hospitalized without HMPV infection, were older and more likely to receive a diagnosis of pneumonia or asthma, to require supplemental oxygen, and to have a longer stay in the intensive care unit," noted researchers. "HMPV infection is associated with a substantial burden of hospitalizations and outpatient visits among children throughout the first five years of life, especially during the first year. Most children with HMPV infection were previously healthy."


Like this story? Find us on Facebook for more insight, analysis and the latest in drug store news. Join the conversation.