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Keywords:

  • Direct antigen assay;
  • human metapneumovirus;
  • human respiratory syncytial virus;
  • realtime;
  • respiratory tract infection;
  • RT-PCR

Clin Microbiol Infect 2010; 16: 1568–1573

Abstract

Human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) and human metapneumovirus (hMPV) are important respiratory pathogens of small children and adults. The present study aimed to design a sensitive real-time RT-PCR assay for the detection of hRSV and hMPV in comparison with direct fluorescent assay (DFA) and to determine the incidence of hMPV and hRSV as causative agents of respiratory infections in a Finnish population. For DFA detection of hMPV antigen, four commercial antibodies were evaluated. The duplex real-time RT-PCR assay achieved a sensitivity of 103 copies/mL of specimen for hRSV and hMPV type A viruses and 104 copies/mL for type B hMPV. The detection rate of the RT-PCR assay was compared with those for DFA detection of hMPV and hRSV in analyses of 350 nasopharyngeal aspirates sent to HUSLAB, Helsinki University Hospital, for routine virus diagnostics during November 2007 to June 2008. Of the samples analyzed, 43 (12.3%) were positive for hRSV by DFA and an additional 13 specimens (3.7%) were positive for hRSV by RT-PCR. Only four samples (1.1 %) were found to be positive for hMPV RNA by RT-PCR, with two of them also positive by DFA. The duplex real-time RT-PCR assay described in the present study can therefore be applied for efficient identification of hMPV and hRSV in clinical specimens and collection of information on the epidemiology and clinical outcome of these viruses.