• novel respiratory viruses;
  • wheezing;
  • pediatric


The role of the novel respiratory viruses, human metapneumovirus (hMPV), human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV NL63) and human bocavirus (HBoV), in wheezing illness in children has not been well studied, especially in Africa. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of hMPV, HCoV NL63 and HBoV in South African children with acute wheezing. A prospective study of consecutive children presenting with acute wheezing to a pediatric hospital from May 2004 to November 2005 was undertaken. A nasal swab was taken for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and PCR for hMPV, HCoV NL63 and HBoV; when positive, the genes were sequenced. Shell vial culture for RSV, influenza A and B viruses, adenovirus and parainfluenza viruses 1, 2, 3 was performed on every 5th sample. Two hundred and forty two nasal swabs were collected from 238 children (median age 12.4 months). A novel respiratory virus was found in 44/242 (18.2%). hMPV, HBoV, and HCoV NL63 was found in 20 (8.3%), 18 (7.4%), and 6 (2.4%) of samples, respectively. Fifteen of 59 (25%) samples were positive for other respiratory viruses. Viral co-infections, occurred in 6/242 (2.5%). Phylogenetic analysis showed co-circulation of hMPV and HCoV NL63 A and B lineages, although only HBoV genotype st2 was found. Viruses are an important cause of wheezing in preschool children; hMPV, HCoV NL63, and HBoV are less common than the usual respiratory pathogens. J. Med. Virol. 80:906–912, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.