Human metapneumovirus infection in hospital referred South African children
Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) was first described in Dutch children with acute respiratory symptoms. A prospective analysis of the epidemiology, clinical manifestation, and seroprevalence of hMPV and other respiratory viruses in South African children referred to hospital for upper or lower respiratory tract infection were carried out during a single winter season, by using RT-PCR, viral culture, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. In nasopharyngeal aspirates from 137 children, hMPV was detected by RT-PCR in 8 (5.8%) children (2-43 months of age) as a sole viral pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in 21 (15%), influenza A virus in 18 (13%) and influenza B virus in 20 (15%). Pneumonia was diagnosed in seven children and upper respiratory tract infection in one of the hMPV-infected children. One hMPV-infected child was admitted to the intensive care unit in need of mechanical ventilation and one child was infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). No statistically significant differences were found between hMPV, RSV, and influenza virus infected groups with regard to clinical signs and symptoms and chest radiograph findings. The seropositive rate of hMPV specific IgG antibodies was 92% in children aged 24-36 months, the oldest seronegative child in our study was 7 years and 6 months of age. In conclusion, hMPV contributes to upper and lower respiratory tract morbidity in South African children. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.