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A newly discovered human pneumovirus isolated from young children with respiratory tract disease.
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From 28 young children in the Netherlands, we isolated a paramyxovirus that was identified as a tentative new member of the Metapneumovirus genus based on virological data, sequence homology and gene constellation. Previously, avian pneumovirus was the sole member of this recently assigned genus, hence the provisional name for the newly discovered virus: human metapneumovirus. The clinical symptoms of the children from whom the virus was isolated were similar to those caused by human respiratory syncytial virus infection, ranging from upper respiratory tract disease to severe bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Serological studies showed that by the age of five years, virtually all children in the Netherlands have been exposed to human metapneumovirus and that the virus has been circulating in humans for at least 50 years.