Objective: To evaluate the prevalence and clinical manifestations of human metapneumovirus (hMPV) in immunocompetent Chinese adults with acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs).
Methods: A reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) assay targeting the P gene was developed in this study and used to detect hMPV in nasal and throat swabs collected from 2936 immunocompetent adult patients with ARTIs in Beijing, China between July 2008 and June 2010.
Results: Among the 2936 patients studied, 49 (1.7%) were positive for hMPV, of whom 14 (28.6%) were positive for hMPV_A2b, 19 (38.8%) for hMPV_B1, and 16 (32.6%) for hMPV_B2. hMPV_A1 was not detected. An average detection rate of 6.6% was observed in the peak months of the two epidemic seasons studied. The hMPV prevalence was higher in the sampled elderly (>65 years, 3.2%) than in middle aged adults (25-65 years; 2.0%) and teenagers (14-25 years; 0.9%). During the study period, hMPV infections showed a biennial rhythm of seasonality, peaking from November to March in 2008/09 and from March to June in 2010.
Conclusion: hMPV infection plays an important role in immunocompetent adults in its epidemic season. The demographic and clinical data presented in this study improves our understanding of the pathogenesis and clinical burden of hMPV infection in adults.