Objective: Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is a recently described paramyxovirus that has been associated with acute upper and lower respiratory infection (LRI) in infants and children worldwide. We previously observed that one-third of the children with hMPV-associated LRI had been diagnosed with a concomitant acute otitis media (AOM). In the current study, we sought to investigate an association between hMPV and children presenting with AOM as a primary diagnosis.
Methods: We used realtime RT-PCR for hMPV to retrospectively test 144 paired nasal wash (NW) and middle ear fluid (MEF) specimens that had been prospectively collected from children with AOM during a 3-year period from 1990-1992. RNA was extracted from archived, frozen samples and realtime RT-PCR for hMPV was performed.
Results: We detected hMPV in 8/144 (6%) NW and 1/144 MEF. Several of the children still tested positive for hMPV in NW 3 days later, showing persistent virus shedding. All were detected from November-May and six had bacterial co-pathogens. Two of the eight (25%) hMPV-infected children had no bacterial pathogen isolated, suggesting that hMPV may be associated with AOM as a sole pathogen.
Conclusions: These data show that hMPV is associated with a proportion of AOM and thus has additional morbidity and healthcare impact related to these illnesses.