What is the role of human metapneumovirus (hMPV) in the etiology of viral pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is a relatively newly discovered respiratory pathogen, initially described in the Netherlands in 2001. [21] hMPV is in the Paramyxoviridae family (like RSV and PIV) and is a pleomorphic-shaped virus surrounded by surface protein projections. This virus is a ubiquitous organism, and most surveys indicate that by age five years, almost all children have been exposed to it. However, reinfection occurs throughout life, including in adults. This virus is spread via droplet and fomite exposure.

As a human pathogen, hMPV may have been underestimated. In children and infants, hMPV was reported to be a notable cause of lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchiolitis (59%), croup (18%), asthma (14%), and pneumonia (8%).

As with other viruses, the severity of infection increases with older age and with comorbid (cardiopulmonary disease) or immunosuppressive conditions. The most common diagnoses associated with adult hospitalizations with hMPV infection are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations, bronchitis, and pneumonia. [22] In immunocompromised hosts (eg, hematologic malignancies), severe pneumonitis requiring intensive care or resulting in death has been reported. [23, 24]

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