Human Metapneumovirus – Clinical Virology


Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is an increasingly recognised cause of respiratory tract infections, particularly in children, the elderly, those with preexisting pulmonary diseases and immunocompromised hosts. The increasing availability of nucleic acid testing has revolutionised our understanding of the pathogenesis, epidemiology, clinical and laboratory aspects of hMPV infection. Although hMPV‚Äźspecific antiviral therapy and vaccines are currently unavailable, it is anticipated that this will change in the near future.

Key Concepts

  • hMPV is a leading cause of acute respiratory tract infections.
  • Infection with hMPV generally occurs in the first 2 years of life, and exposure to hMPV is near universal by the age of 5.
  • hMPV infection is characterised by respiratory tract infection with wheeze.
  • hMPV is associated with admission for exacerbations of obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart.
  • Patients with haematological malignancies have a high mortality with hMPV.
  • Diagnosis should be confirmed with NAT on nasopharyngeal specimens.

Keywords: human metapneumovirus; respiratory virus; upper respiratory tract infection; lower respiratory tract infection; pneumonia

Figure 1. Human pathogens in the Paramyxoviridae family.
Figure 2. Human metapneumovirus.
Figure 3. Cytopathic effect and syncytial formation of HMPV in LLC_MK2 (rhesus monkey kidney epithelial) cell culture detected at 17 days of culture.


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Further Reading

Falsey AR (2015) Human metapneumovirus. In: Mandell GL , Bennett JE and Dolin R (eds) Mandel, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 8th edn. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone.

Rawling J and Melero JA (2011) Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000429.pub3].

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Keighley, Caitlin L, Kok, Jen, Nissen, Michael D, and Dwyer, Dominic E(Mar 2016) Human Metapneumovirus – Clinical Virology. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023617]