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Sindbis Virus Biological Agent Reference Sheet (BARS)

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
Virus  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: Virus

Description: Sindbis virus (genus: Alphavirus; family: Togaviridae) are positive-sensed single stranded RNA viruses that are spherical in shape and consist of an envelope and nucleocapsid. Infection with Sindbis virus begins with a sudden onset of fever, headache, and joint pain. The infection proceeds to ultimately involve rashes on the body, limbs and possible inflammation of the throat. Most patients recover in 14 days. For approximately 50% of the patients, joint symptoms last for 12 months to 2.5 years.

Host Range: Humans, birds, small mammals, amphibians         Host Shedding: Blood, Direct Contact

Route of Exposure to Humans: Aerosol/Inhalation, Arthropod Vectors, Percutaneous

Infectious Dose: Unknown                                                Incubation Period: Up to 10 days

Health Hazards

Signs and symptoms of infection may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms (i.e. fever, headache, dehydration, weight loss,
  • Cutaneous symptoms (i.e. skin lesions, rash)
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms (i.e. joint and muscle pain)

Immunizations: None available                                  Prophylaxis*: Available

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

Agent Viability 

Survival Outside Host Disinfection Inactivation

Can survive at low temperature and low pH and still infect in cell culture

1:10 Bleach Dilution followed by  70% ethanol

Accelerated hydrogen peroxide

Quaternary ammonium compounds

The virus is sensitive to temperatures above 58°C

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,
  • Splash/droplet-creating activities (shaking incubators, liquid culturing,
    mechanical pipetting)
  • Uncovered/exposed 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 Inoculations: In a Biosafety Cabinet

Change Cages: In a Biosafety Cabinet

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. CDC. (2009). Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories.
  2. Ehrengruber, M. U., Schlesinger, S., & Lundstrom, K. (2011). Alphaviruses: Semliki Forest Virus and Sindbis Virus Vectors for Gene Transfer into Neurons. Current Protocols in Neuroscience, 57(1). doi: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0422s57
  3. Horowitz, B., Minor, P., & Morgenthaler, J. J. (2004). Guidelines on viral inactivation and removal procedures intended to assure the viral safety of human blood plasma products. World Health Organization.