Background: Adequate laboratory diagnosis of human rhinoviruses (hRV) and human metapneumoviruses (h MPV) requires molecular methods as viral culture lacks sensitivity. However, setting up individual PCRs for all respiratory viruses is not practical so preferentially multiplex PCRs are used.
Objectives: To develop for routine diagnosis a rapid real-time PCR assay for detection of hRV and h MPV including an internal control in a single tube multiplex reaction using probes carrying different fluorophores to discriminate targets.
Study design: The multiplex real-time RNA PCR was optimized to include the internal control virus and a total of 358 respiratory samples from 239 patients taken over a one-year period were analyzed by the multiplex assay.
Results: The multiplex assay with co-amplification of the internal control was as sensitive and specific as the individual assays. Application of this assay on clinical samples from 239 patients in a one-year period resulted in an incidence of hRV and h MPV of 41/239 (17.1%) and 6/239 (2.5%), respectively. Inhibition, defined as poor internal control amplification, was detected in 8 (2.2%) samples. Culture was performed on these samples and only four hRV were detected.
Conclusions: This real-time PCR method enables sensitive diagnosis of these two respiratory pathogens with the potential to expand the assay as part of a full molecular respiratory viral screen.