Human Parainfluenza Viruses (HPIV) Symptoms & Causes

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In-Depth

What are human parainfluenza viruses?

Human parainfluenza viruses (HPIV) are a group of viruses that cause different types of respiratory infections and are most common in children and babies.

Types of human parainfluenza viruses

HPIV can cause two different types of infections:

What causes human parainfluenza viruses?

HPIV are contagious. They are most commonly transmitted from a sneeze, but can also be caught by coming in contact with infectious material then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. The virus can stay alive in the air for up to an hour.

Are human parainfluenza viruses common?

Most children will develop an infection with HPIV before they are 5 years old. More specifically:

  • More boys are usually affected by croup, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia than girls
  • Croup is most commonly seen in children 3 months old to 5 years, with the peak being 2 years old
  • Croup is seen more often in the fall and winter and alternate every other year
  • Children under the age of 2 are more likely to pneumonia or bronchiolitis
  • Bronchiolitis usually occurs in the winter and spring
  • The most common age group affected by bronchiolitis is 2 to 6 months of age
  • Pneumonia can occur year round, but is usually seen in the winter and spring
  • There is an increased chance of developing pneumonia in a crowded area
  • 10 to 15 percent of children with a respiratory infection have pneumonia
  • Reinfections can occur after the first infection, but are usually less severe.

What are the symptoms ofhuman parainfluenza viruses?

While symptoms may vary child-to-child, the most common include:

  • runny nose
  • redness or swelling of the eyes
  • barky cough
  • noisy, harsh breathing
  • hoarse voice or cry
  • rattling felt over the chest or back
  • wheezing
  • fever
  • irritability
  • decreased appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
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