Prevention and Treatment

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Prevention

Currently, there is no vaccine to protect you against infection caused by human parainfluenza viruses (HPIV). However, researchers are trying to develop vaccines.

You may be able to reduce your risk of HPIV and other respiratory viral infections by

  • washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
Handwashing with water and soap

Frequent hand washing is especially important in childcare settings. For information about hand washing, see CDC’s Clean Hands Save Lives!

Breastfeeding may protect babies from HPIVs during their first few months of life. That’s because mothers may have antibodies (protective cells) in their breast milk to fight infection.

If you are sick with HPIV illness, you can help protect others by

  • staying home while you are sick
  • avoiding close contact with others
  • covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • keeping objects and surfaces clean and disinfected

Treatment

There is no specific antiviral treatment for HPIV illness. Most people with HPIV illness will recover on their own. However, to relieve symptoms, you can

  • take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and other over-the-counter medications for pain and fever (Caution: Aspirin should not be given to children.)
  • use a room humidifier or taking a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough

People who are sick should

  • drink plenty of liquids
  • stay home and rest

If your illness is only caused by HPIV, then antibiotics will not make you better. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria. For information about safe antibiotic use, see Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work.

If you are concerned about your symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider.

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Page last reviewed: October 31, 2019