Recent advances in the detection of respiratory virus infection in humans

J Med Virol. 2020 Apr;92(4):408-417. doi: 10.1002/jmv.25674. Epub 2020 Feb 4.


Respiratory tract viral infection caused by viruses or bacteria is one of the most common diseases in human worldwide, while those caused by emerging viruses, such as the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV that caused the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China most recently, have posed great threats to global public health. Identification of the causative viral pathogens of respiratory tract viral infections is important to select an appropriate treatment, save people's lives, stop the epidemics, and avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics. Conventional diagnostic tests, such as the assays for rapid detection of antiviral antibodies or viral antigens, are widely used in many clinical laboratories. With the development of modern technologies, new diagnostic strategies, including multiplex nucleic acid amplification and microarray-based assays, are emerging. This review summarizes currently available and novel emerging diagnostic methods for the detection of common respiratory viruses, such as influenza virus, human respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus, human adenovirus, and human rhinovirus. Multiplex assays for simultaneous detection of multiple respiratory viruses are also described. It is anticipated that such data will assist researchers and clinicians to develop appropriate diagnostic strategies for timely and effective detection of respiratory virus infections.

Keywords: adenovirus; coronavirus; diagnostic methods; influenza virus; respiratory syncytial virus; respiratory viral infection; rhinovirus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenovirus Infections, Human / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Immunologic Tests
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis*
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
  • Picornaviridae Infections / diagnosis*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Rhinovirus
  • Viruses / growth & development
  • Viruses / isolation & purification