Isolation of a Newly Recognized Alphavirus from Mosquitoes in Vietnam and Evidence for Human Infection and Disease

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  • National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Malaria, Parasitology, and Entomology, Hanoi, Vietnam

During studies of arboviral epidemiology in Vietnam, five virus isolates were recovered from Culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquitoes. Three of the five isolates were identified as strains of Japanese encephalitis virus, but the others, collected at Me Tri village, Hanoi, were shown to represent an alphavirus, for which we propose the name Me Tri virus. This newly recognized virus is most closely related to Semliki Forest virus. The two isolates appear to be antigenic subtypes of a single virus, and each was associated with central nervous system illnesses in children. Serologic surveys indicate widespread distribution of these viruses in both humans and livestock in Vietnam. We suggest that Me Tri virus is an etiologic agent of human disease in southeast Asia.