• human metapneumovirus;
  • hospitalized infants;
  • lower respiratory infection


Human metapneumovirus was discovered recently respiratory virus implicated in both upper and lower respiratory tract infection. In children, the clinical symptoms of human metapneumovirus are similar to those produced by respiratory syncytial virus, ranging from mild to severe diseases such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia. The aim of the present study was to describe the prevalence of human metapneumovirus and other common respiratory viruses among admitted to hospital infants. From January 2006 to June 2006, 99 nasopharyngeal aspirates were collected from hospitalized children younger than 12 months in order to study respiratory viruses. Human metapneumovirus detection was performed by cell culture and two RT-PCR targeting on polymerase and fusion genes. The latter gene was used for phylogenetic analysis. In 67/99 children (67%) at least one viral pathogen was identified, the viruses detected most frequently were respiratory syncytial virus (35%), human metapneumovirus (25%) and rhinovirus (19%). The results obtained in this study, show that: (1) human metapneumovirus is one of the most important viruses among children less than 12 months; (2) children infected with human metapneumovirus were significantly older than those infected by respiratory syncytial virus; (3) human metapneumovirus was associated more frequently with pneumonia whereas respiratory syncytial virus was only detected in patients with bronchiolitis; (4) there was a clear epidemiological succession pattern with only a small overlap among the viruses detected most frequently; (5) all human metapneumovirus samples were clustered within sublineage A2. J. Med. Virol. 80:1452–1460, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.