by Dr Linda Calabresi
The recently described human metapneumovirus has been found to be a leading cause of illness in lung transplant patients, according to Australian researchers.
Publishing (link) in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (Online 24 July), Queensland researchers report that in a group of almost 90 lung transplant patients with a respiratory tract infection, human metapneumovirus was found to account for 40% of the cases where a viral cause could be determined. This was similar to the percentage caused by the more well-known respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Importantly researchers found that those patients infected with the newer metapneumovirus were at a similar high risk of developing graft dysfunction and lung function deterioration as those infected with RSV, however the RSV appeared to be associated with a higher risk of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, possibly due to metapneumovirus being more amenable to aggressive treatment than RSV.
While it is known that lung transplant patients are predisposed to respiratory infections, and early diagnosis is essential to treatment, the challenge has been isolating the viral cause, the authors said. The finding that human metapneumovirus accounts for more than one in three of the viral infections identified suggests that all lung transplant with infections should have PCR testing for the virus.
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