Monday, July 15, 2024

Viral respiratory illness causing concern in NSW


A viral respiratory illness is surging in multiple states across Australia, prompting a warning from health authorities.

NSW Health has reported an increased number of residents presenting with symptoms of the Human Metapneumovirus (hMPV).

Infectious diseases physician and microbiologist, Dr Paul Griffin told 9News he is seeing a similar surge in cases in Queensland.

“It’s interesting, a lot of other respiratory viruses on the decline, but hMPV does appear to still be increasing,” he said.

Dr Griffin has urged members of the public to do their part to protect the more vulnerable in their communities.

“We’re not suggesting that this is going to be something that’s going to be pervasive, and everybody’s going to necessarily get unwell,” he said.

“But we’re seeing people hospitalized recently in my hospital and it can also cause outbreaks in aged care for example.

“That’s why it is important to not just focus on COVID, flu and even RSV, but to get those basics right, across the spectrum, to protect yourself from respiratory illness.”

He suggests washing hands, wearing a mask if sick, and staying at home when showing symptoms.

Latest NSW Health data shows that more than 1,100 people reported a positive case of the respiratory illness last week – a 15% increase on the number of cases reported in the previous week.

The health department says cases have spiked significantly over the past month, with just 383 cases reported in the week ending on August 13.

“We’ve now seen an uptick in flu, RSV, and hMPV is yet another virus,” said NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant.

Symptoms of hMPV, which has no cure, are similar to the common cold including nasal congestion, coughs, shortness of breath and a fever.

In severe cases, complications can lead to bronchitis or pneumonia and can be more dangerous for immunocompromised and vulnerable groups.

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