The Burden of Human Metapneumovirus and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections in Hospitalized Norwegian Children
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonJournal of Infectious Diseases. 2017, 216 (1), 110-116. 10.1093/infdis/jix262
Background. The burden of severe human metapneumovirus (HMPV) respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in European children has not been clarified. We assessed HMPV in Norwegian children and compared hospitalization rates for HMPV and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Methods. We prospectively enrolled children (<16 years old) hospitalized with RTI and asymptomatic controls (2006–2015). Nasopharyngeal aspirate samples were analyzed with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for HMPV, RSV, and 17 other pathogens. We genotyped HMPV-positive samples and assessed shedding time in 32 HMPV-infected children. Results. In children with RTI, HMPV was detected in 7.3% (267 of 3650) and RSV in 28.7% (1048 of 3650). Among controls, 2.1% (7 of 339) had low HMPV levels detected by PCR, but all were culture negative. HMPV primarily occurred from January to April and in regular epidemics. At least 2 HMPV subtypes occurred each season. The average annual hospitalization rates in children <5 years old with lower RTI were 1.9/1000 (HMPV) and 10.4/1000 (RSV). Among children with RTI, the median HMPV shedding time by PCR was 13 days (range, 6–28 days), but all were culture negative (noninfectious) after 13 days. Conclusions. HMPV appears in epidemics in Norwegian children, with a hospitalization rate 5 times lower than RSV. Low levels of HMPV are rarely detected in healthy children.