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Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biological Agent Reference Sheet (BARS)

Updated November 29th, 2023
Disclaimer: Risk group, biosafety level, and all other precautions noted here are subject to change after a risk assessment by EHS.


Agent Type Risk Group Biosafety Level Animal Housing Biosafety Level
Bacteria  RG-2 BSL-2 ABSL-2

Agent Characteristics 

Risk Group: RG-2 associated with human disease, rarely serious; preventive or therapeutic interventions often available.

Agent Type: Bacteria

Description: The genus Pseudomonas, of the Pseudomonadaceae family, are motile gram-negative aerobic bacteria. These 2-4 μm long plump-shaped rods have polar flagella that have an important role in pathogenicity. They are non-spore forming and can produce pigments, such as pyocyanine (green-blue) and pyorubrin (yellowgreen) fluorescence. P. aeruginosa can produce a large variety of extracellular toxins, including exotoxin A and enterotoxins. Other substances such as hydrocyanic acid, proteolytic enzymes, toxic surface slime, and hemolytic substances may also contribute to the pathogenicity of this species. Toxins combined with harmful substances are determinant factors in the high virulence of P. aeruginosa in a variety of different hosts.

Host Range: Humans, animals (wild, domestic, livestock), plants, and fungi.

Host Shedding: Direct contact                           Infectious Dose: Unknown  

Route of Exposure to Humans: Aerosol/Inhalation, Direct contact, Ingestion, Percutaneous

Incubation Period: Varies according to infection; eye infection can appear 24-72 hours after infection.

Health Hazards

Signs and symptoms of infection may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms (i.e. fever, headache, dehydration, weight loss, lethargy)
  • Cutaneous symptoms (i.e. skin lesions, rash)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Respiratory symptoms (i.e. coughing, sneezing)
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms (i.e. joint and muscle pain)
  • Reproductive Health concerns (i.e. abortion, fetal abnormalities)

Immunizations: None available                          Prophylaxis*: None available

*Formal medical advice is obtained during medical consultations with Cornell Health or primary healthcare provider as needed.

Agent Viability 

Survival Outside Host Disinfection

Pseudomonas can survive for months on dry surfaces and inanimate objects, and are one of the bacteria most frequently isolated from patients with nosocomial infections; growth observed in distilled water can survive up to months with minimal nutrients; humidity can improve persistence

 1:10 bleach Dilution (30 minutes contact time)

For more guidance on disinfection see: disinfectant selection.

Laboratory Hazards 

  • High energy-creating activities (centrifugation, sonication, high pressure systems, vortexing, tube cap popping)
  • Handling of sharps (needles, scalpels, microtome blades, broken glass, etc.)
  • Splash/droplet-creating activities (shaking incubators, liquid culturing, mechanical pipetting)
  • Equipment contamination
  • Exposed skin/uncovered wounds

Laboratory Acquired Infection (LAI) History: None reported to date.

Laboratory Handling Guidelines 

Laboratory Biosafety Level (BSL): BSL-2


Lab Engineering Controls Personal Protective Equipment
  • Eye Protection
  • Single gloves
  • Snap-front lab coat with cinch cuffs

Waste Management: Regulated Medical Waste (RMW)

Shipping Guidance: Refer to EHS Biological Materials Shipping 

Animal Vivarium Guidance

Animal Housing Biosafety Level (ABSL): ABSL-2

Animal Biosecurity: Experimental animals are housed separately

Perform InoculationsBenchtop, Biosafety Cabinet, Cage Changing station

Change CagesBenchtop, Biosafety Cabinet, Cage Changing Station

Exposure and Spill Procedures 

Mucous Membranes: Flush eyes, mouth, or nose for 15 minutes at an eyewash station. See: responding to exposures.

Other Exposures: Wash with soap and water for 15 minutes (open wounds, sores, etc.) or a minimum of 20 seconds for areas with intact skin. See: responding to exposures.

Small Spills: Notify others working in the lab. Evacuate area and allow 30 minutes for aerosols to settle. Don appropriate PPE. Cover area of the spill with paper towels and apply disinfectant, working from the perimeter toward the center. Allow 30 minutes of contact time before disposal and cleanup of spill materials. See: spill cleanup

Large Spills: Request assistance from the EHS Spill Team by calling CUPD dispatch. Call 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a mobile phone.

Incident Reporting: Immediately report the incident to supervisor and complete the EHS online injury/illness report as soon as possible.

Medical Follow-Up:

  • For students, seek medical attention at Cornell Health or local primary care provider. Call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24-hour phone consultation line) or a local urgent care. 
  • For faculty and staff, seek medical evaluation with a local primary care provider or urgent care. Cornell Health does not see employees for post-exposure care. 
  • Emergencies: Call 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a mobile phone. 
Cornell EHS would like to thank Emory University for the use of their Biological Agent Reference Sheet (BARS) format and some content. 

More Information


  1. Pseudomonas spp. Pathogen Safety Data Sheet. Public Health Agency of Canada.