14 strains of Getah virus were isolated from a variety of mosquito species collected in Sarawak between October 1968 and February 1970. Ten strains were isolated from C. tritaeniorhynchus 7 of them at K. Tijirak. Single strains were isolated from C. gelidus, C. pseudovishnui, M. bonneae/dives and Aanopheles species. 6 of the isolates were obtained in October 1968 when Japanese encephalitis, Tembusu and Sindbis viruses were also very active. The available evidence suggest that Getah virus in Sarawak is maintained in a cycle similar to that of Japanese encephalitis virus and involves C. tritaeniorhynchus, C. gelidus and domestic pigs.
The possible role of pigs as arbovirus maintenance hosts and their importance as amplifier hosts was studied. Blood samples from 464 pigs of all ages collected in 1962 and 1964 were tested against 10 arboviruses. Antibodies to Japanese encephalitis and Getah viruses were particularly prevalent and their calculated monthly infection rates were 19-5% and 13-3% respectively. In 1969, 447 pigs were bled monthly throughout the year and the infection rates for Japanese encephalitis virus were calculated in pigs during the first year of life. Infection rates were not uniform throughout the year; the rate increases as the pig grew older and there was a marked seasonal increase in the infection rate in the period from November to January. This coincided with the seasonal major population peak of Culex tritaeniorhynchus following intense breeding of this mosquito prior to rice planting. It is suggested that, in Sarawak, the pig acts as a maintenance host of Japanese encephalitis in a cycle involving C. gelidus mosquitoes and also acts as an important amplifier host towards the end of the year in a cycle involving C. tritaeniorhynchus. It is further suggested that Getah virus is maintained in a similar cycle between C. tritaeniorhynchus and pigs.
Thirty isolations of Tembusu virus and four of Sindbis virus were obtained from approximately 280 000 mosquitoes collected between October 1968 and February 1970 in Sarawak, particularly from K. Tijirak, a Land Dyak village 19 miles South of Kuching. Twenty-two isolations of Tembusu virus and two of Sindbis virus were from Culex tritaeniorhynchus; two of Tembusu virus and two of Sindbis virus came from Culex gelidus. Tembusu virus was active throughout the year at K. Tijirak, the highest infection rates in C. tritaeniorhynchus being in January-March and May-August, when the C. tritaeniorhynchus population was declining and ageing. These results confirm that C. tritaeniorhynchus is the principal arthopod host of Tembusu virus in Sarawak. Antibody studies suggest that birds, particularly domestic fowl, are probably vertebrate maintenance hosts of Tembusu and Sindbis viruses in Sarawak.