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Hospital-based and community-based 'high-risk cohort' studies investigating humans at risk of zoonotic infection due to occupational or residential exposure to animals were conducted in Vietnam, with diverse viruses identified from faecal samples collected from humans, domestic and wild animals. In this study, we focus on the positive-sense RNA virus family Picornaviridae, investigating the prevalence, diversity, and potential for cross-species transmission. Through metagenomic sequencing, we found picornavirus contigs in 23% of samples, belonging to 15 picornavirus genera. Prevalence was highest in bats (67%) while diversity was highest in rats (nine genera). In addition, 22% of the contigs were derived from novel viruses: Twelve phylogenetically distinct clusters were observed in rats of which seven belong to novel species or types in the genera Hunnivirus, Parechovirus, Cardiovirus, Mosavirus and Mupivirus; four distinct clusters were found in bats, belonging to one novel parechovirus species and one related to an unclassified picornavirus. There was no evidence for zoonotic transmission in our data. Our study provides an improved knowledge of the diversity and prevalence of picornaviruses, including a variety of novel picornaviruses in rats and bats. We highlight the importance of monitoring the human-animal interface for possible spill-over events.

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Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FL, UK.