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Another Health Episode

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Susan L Hendrix MHA, Ph.D Lupus Advocate

We all know that having an autoimmune illness such as SLE (Lupus) is unpredictable. Most of us who have this illness never know from one day to the next how we will feel.

In February 2023, I once again became ill. It started out like a cold which I haven't had in years. Runny nose, sneezing, coughing, then I started having headaches, I became weak the fatigue really kicked in, I was in the bed for a total of two weeks I didn't even have the strength to go to the doctor. My family thought that I had COVID, but I had not been around anyone just family.

I remember telling my family "If I'm not any better by the weekend, that I would go to my doctor to see what was going on." Well on that Monday I placed a call to my PCP and informed them what was going on and I was told to come on in as soon as possible. When I walked in they took me right to the exam room and started to run COVID testing and took numerous tubes of blood to check my levels. My doctor informed me to contact the rheumatologist and see about getting an appointment.

I made the appointment for the rheumatologist, but before going to his office I received a call back from my doctor who informed me that all my levels were low and that I had contracted the human metapneumovirus. The CDC (2023) asserts that "Human metapneumovirus (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. Discovered in 2001, HMPV is in the paramyxovirus family along with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Broader use of molecular diagnostic testing has increased identification and awareness of HMPV as an important cause of upper and lower respiratory infection."

After hearing this the first words the doctor stated to me "Have you been around anyone new?" and my reply was no. He further stated, "I can't give you anything for this no antibiotic will help, it just has to run its course." The doctor further stated, "All your labs came back abnormal make sure that you see your rheumatologist." When, he stated abnormal I really didn't have any concerns because usually all my labs come back as abnormal, but it was the tone in which he stated it that had me concerned.

The symptoms of HMPV are:

Symptoms commonly associated with HMPV include cough, fever, nasal congestion, and shortness of breath. Clinical symptoms of HMPV infection may progress to bronchitis or pneumonia and are similar to other viruses that cause upper and lower respiratory infections. The estimated incubation period is 3 to 6 days, and the median duration of illness can vary depending upon severity but is similar to other respiratory infections caused by viruses.


HMPV is most likely spread from an infected person to others through

  • secretions from coughing and sneezing

  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands

  • touching objects or surfaces that have the viruses on them then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes

In the U.S., HMPV circulates in distinct annual seasons. HMPV circulation begins in winter and lasts until or through spring. HMPV, RSV, and influenza can circulate simultaneously during the respiratory virus season.

Prevention and Treatment

Currently, there is no specific antiviral therapy to treat HMPV and no vaccine to prevent HMPV. Medical care is supportive. However, your patients can help prevent the spread of HMPV and other respiratory viruses by following these steps:

  • Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (see CDC’s Clean Hands Save Lives!).

  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Patients who have cold-like symptoms should

  • cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing

  • wash their hands frequently and correctly (with soap and water for at least 20 seconds)

  • avoid sharing their cups and eating utensils with others

  • refrain from kissing others

  • stay at home when they are sick

In addition, cleaning possible contaminated surfaces (such as doorknobs and shared toys) may potentially help stop the spread of HMPV.

I thought SLE took me through the ringer, having this virus triggered all of my underlying conditions, and put me in a lupus flare. This has been another health episode for the books stay tuned for more details.

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