Southeastern Asia is a recognised hotspot for emerging infectious diseases, many of which have an animal origin. Mammarenavirus infections contribute significantly to the human disease burden in both Africa and the Americas, but little data exists for Asia. To date only two mammarenaviruses, the widely spread lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and the recently described Wēnzhōu virus have been identified in this region, but the zoonotic impact in Asia remains unknown. Here we report the presence of a novel mammarenavirus and of a genetic variant of the Wēnzhōu virus and provide evidence of mammarenavirus-associated human infection in Asia. The association of these viruses with widely distributed mammals of diverse species, commonly found in human dwellings and in peridomestic habitats, illustrates the potential for widespread zoonotic transmission and adds to the known aetiologies of infectious diseases for this region.
Keywords: Asia; arenavirus; human infection; infectious disease; microbiology; virus.