Sabiá virus: Infectious substances pathogen safety data sheet

Section I – Infectious agent


Sabiá virus

Agent type








Mammarenavirus brazilense

Synonym or cross-reference

Sabiá virus; Brazilian mammarenavirus; SABV; SPH 114202 virus; Brazilian hemorrhagic fever; São Paulo hemorrhagic fever.Footnote 1Footnote 2Footnote 3


Brief description

Sabiá mammarenavirus belongs to Clade B of the New World mammarenaviruses, also known as the “Tacaribe serocomplex”Footnote 3. SABV is an enveloped, pleomorphic, negative sense, single-stranded RNA virusFootnote 3. The genome of SABV is bi-segmented and consists of two linear RNA segments approximately 7.1 and 3.4 kilobases in length, respectivelyFootnote 4. Virions measure 50-200 nm in diameterFootnote 3.


The SABV genome encodes four proteins: nucleoprotein (N), glycoprotein precursor (GPC), RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (L), and zinc-binding protein (Z)Footnote 5. Mammarenaviruses use an ambisense coding strategy whereby mRNA for the N and L proteins are transcribed from genomic RNA and mRNA for the GPC and Z proteins are transcribed from anti-genomic RNAFootnote 6. Virus replication occurs in the cytoplasm of host cellsFootnote 6. Mature virions are released via budding from the plasma membraneFootnote 6. Transferrin receptor 1 is the host cell receptor for virus entryFootnote 7.

Section II – Hazard identification

Pathogenicity and toxicity

SABV is the causative agent of Brazilian hemorrhagic feverFootnote 2. Disease begins with gradual onset of influenza-like illness. Symptoms include fever, malaise, myalgia, sore throat, cough, and headache with gastrointestinal involvement (e.g., epigastric pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea) in some casesFootnote 1Footnote 8Footnote 9Footnote 10Footnote 11. After about 1 to 2 weeks, hemorrhagic (e.g., bleeding gums, hematemesis, conjunctivitis, shock) and/or neurological (e.g., drowsiness, tremors, tonic-clonic seizures, difficulty walking) manifestations may developFootnote 1Footnote 2Footnote 10Footnote 11. Three of the five reported cases of Brazilian hemorrhagic fever have been fatalFootnote 10Footnote 12. Death occurred within 2 to 3 weeks of symptom onsetFootnote 1Footnote 10Footnote 12.


Five cases of Brazilian hemorrhagic fever have been reported to dateFootnote 10Footnote 12. Three cases were naturally acquired and occurred in São Paulo, Brazil in 1990, 1999, and 2020, respectivelyFootnote 1Footnote 10Footnote 12. The remaining two cases occurred in a laboratory setting in 1992 and 1994Footnote 9Footnote 13.

Host range

Natural host(s)

Humans are accidental hosts. The primary host in nature is unknown; however, rodents are a suspected hostFootnote 8.

Other host(s)


Infectious dose


Incubation period

7 to 14 daysFootnote 8Footnote 9.


The primary route of infection with SABV remains unclear, but is thought to be inhalation of aerosolized infectious particlesFootnote 1Footnote 8Footnote 9Footnote 12. Excreta and secreta of infected rodents are the suspected source of infectious aerosols in naturally acquired casesFootnote 8Footnote 12. Person-to-person transmission of SABV is presumably possible (i.e., via direct contact with body fluids or aerosols from infected individuals) but has not been demonstrated to dateFootnote 9.

Section III – Dissemination


The natural reservoir host has not been identified but is likely a rodent, based on evidence that many other New World mammarenaviruses are maintained in rodent reservoirsFootnote 8. To date, humans are the only species from which SABV has been isolated in natureFootnote 12Footnote 14.


Human infection is thought to occur through direct contact with infected rodents or their excreta and secretaFootnote 15.



Section IV – Stability and viability

Drug susceptibility/resistance

Ribavirin has shown efficacy in treating human SABV infectionsFootnote 9. ST-193, a benzimidazole derivative, showed in vitro activity against viral entryFootnote 16.

Susceptibility to disinfectants

Enveloped viruses are readily inactivated by most detergents and disinfectants, such as 2% glutaraldehyde, 1% sodium hypochlorite, 70% ethanol, and quaternary ammonium compoundsFootnote 17Footnote 18Footnote 19.

Physical inactivation

Mammarenaviruses are inactivated by heat (60°C for 1 hour), pH below 5.5 or above 8.5, and exposure to UV and/or gamma irradiationFootnote 8Footnote 20Footnote 21.

Survival outside host

Survival of SABV outside the host is unknown. Infectious virus shed in the excreta and secreta of infected rodent hosts is a known source of environmental contamination by mammarenavirusesFootnote 22.

Section V – First aid/medical


SABV can be identified by isolation and culture of the virus from blood of infected individualsFootnote 1Footnote 9. Viral RNA can be detected by reverse transcription PCR and viral antigen can be detected by indirect immunofluorescence assay or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)Footnote 1Footnote 9Footnote 23. Antibodies against SABV in patient serum can be detected by ELISA, virus neutralization assay, complement fixation assay, and indirect immunofluorescence assayFootnote 1Footnote 9Footnote 14Footnote 24.

Note: The specific recommendations for surveillance in the laboratory should come from the medical surveillance program, which is based on a local risk assessment of the pathogens and activities being undertaken, as well as an overarching risk assessment of the biosafety program as a whole. More information on medical surveillance is available in the Canadian Biosafety Handbook (CBH).

First aid/treatment

Supportive treatment to manage dehydration and bleeding symptomsFootnote 1. Intravenous ribavirin is effective in treating SABV infection when administered early in the course of illnessFootnote 9.

Note: The specific recommendations for first aid/treatment in the laboratory should come from the post-exposure response plan, which is developed as part of the medical surveillance program. More information on the post-exposure response plan can be found in the CBH.


No vaccine is available.

Note: More information on the medical surveillance program can be found in the CBH, and by consulting the Canadian Immunization Guide.


Post-exposure prophylaxis with ribavirin may reduce the severity of diseaseFootnote 9Footnote 25.

Note: More information on prophylaxis as part of the medical surveillance program can be found in the CBH.

Section VI – Laboratory hazard

Laboratory-acquired infections

Two laboratory-acquired infections have been documentedFootnote 1Footnote 9Footnote 13. In 1992, a laboratory technician developed influenza-like illness following exposure to SABVFootnote 1Footnote 13. Infection likely occurred via the aerosol route and seroconversion was demonstrated. The patient was treated with intravenous fluids and recovered. In 1994, a researcher working in a university-hospital laboratory was exposed to SABV infectious aerosols following leakage of virus-infected cell culture fluid during high-speed centrifugation, which led to a confirmed infectionFootnote 9. The patient was treated early in the course of illness with ribavirin and recovered.

Note: Please consult the Canadian Biosafety Standard (CBS) and CBH for additional details on requirements for reporting exposure incidents. A Canadian biosafety guideline describing notification and reporting procedures is also available.


Blood, necropsy tissues, throat washings, and urineFootnote 1Footnote 8.

Primary hazards

The primary exposure hazard is inhalation of airborne or aerosolized infectious materialFootnote 9. Direct contact of virus with damaged skin or mucosa also poses a risk of infectionFootnote 22.

Special hazards


Section VII – Exposure controls/personal protection

Risk group classification

SABV is a Risk Group 4 human pathogen and a Risk Group 4 animal pathogenFootnote 26Footnote 27. It is also included on the Security Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBA) ListFootnote 27.

Containment requirements

Containment Level 4 facilities, equipment, and operational practices outlined in the CBS are required for work involving infectious or potentially infectious materials, animals, or cultures.

Note: There are additional security requirements, such as obtaining a Human Pathogens and Toxins Act Security Clearance, for work involving SSBAs.

Protective clothing

The applicable Containment Level 4 requirements for personal protective equipment and clothing outlined in the CBS to be followed. The use of a positive-pressure suit or use of a Class III biological safety cabinet (BSC) line is required for all work with RG4 pathogens.

Note: A local risk assessment will identify the appropriate hand, foot, head, body, eye/face, and respiratory protection, and the personal protective equipment requirements for the containment zone must be documented.  

Other precautions

All activities involving open vessels of regulated materials are to be performed in a certified biological safety cabinet (BSC) or other appropriate primary containment device. Centrifugation of infected materials must be carried out in closed containers placed in sealed safety cups, or in rotors that are unloaded in a biological safety cabinet. The integrity of positive pressure suits must be routinely checked for leaks. The use of needles, syringes, and other sharp objects to be strictly limited. Open wounds, cuts, scratches, and grazes are to be covered with waterproof dressings. Additional precautions must be considered with work involving animal activities.

Section VIII – Handling and storage


The spill area to be evacuated and secured. Aerosols must be allowed to settle for a minimum of 30 minutes. Spills of potentially contaminated material to be covered with absorbent paper-based material (e.g., paper towels), liberally covered with an effective disinfectant (e.g., 1% sodium hypochlorite), and left to soak for an appropriate amount of time (e.g., 10 minutes) before being wiped up. Following the removal of the initial material, the disinfection process is to be repeated (CBH). Individuals performing this task without a positive pressure suit, must wear PPE including particulate respirators (e.g., N95 or higher). Disposable gloves, impermeable gowns and protective eye wear are to be removed immediately after completion of the process, placed in an autoclave bag, and decontaminated prior to disposal (CBH).


All materials/substances that have come in contact with the regulated materials must be completely decontaminated before they are removed from the containment zone. This can be achieved by using decontamination technologies and processes that have been demonstrated to be effective against the regulated materials, such as chemical disinfectants, autoclaving, irradiation, incineration, an effluent treatment system, or gaseous decontamination (CBH).


Containment Level 4: The applicable Containment Level 4 requirements for storage outlined in the CBS are to be followed. Pathogens, toxins, and other regulated materials to be stored inside the containment zone.

Inventory of Risk Group 4 (RG4) pathogens in long-term storage to be maintained and to include:

Section IX – Regulatory and other information

Canadian regulatory information

Controlled activities with SABV require a Human Pathogens and Toxins licence , issued by the Public Health Agency of CanadaFootnote 27. SABV is a non-indigenous animal pathogen in Canada; therefore, its importation requires an import permit, issued by the CFIAFootnote 28.

Note: that there are additional security requirements, such as obtaining a Human Pathogens and Toxins Act Security Clearance, for work involving SSBAs.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of applicable designations, regulation, or legislation:

Last file update


Prepared by

Centre for Biosecurity, Public Health Agency of Canada.


The scientific information, opinions, and recommendations contained in this Pathogen Safety Data Sheet have been developed based on or compiled from trusted sources available at the time of publication. Newly discovered hazards are frequent and this information may not be completely up to date. The Government of Canada accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, sufficiency, or reliability or for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information.

Persons in Canada are responsible for complying with the relevant laws, including regulations, guidelines and standards applicable to the import, transport, and use of pathogens in Canada set by relevant regulatory authorities, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Transport Canada. The risk classification and related regulatory requirements referenced in this Pathogen Safety Data Sheet, such as those found in the Canadian Biosafety Standard, may be incomplete and are specific to the Canadian context. Other jurisdictions will have their own requirements.

Copyright © Public Health Agency of Canada, 2023, Canada


Footnote 1

Coimbra, T. L. M., E. S. Nassar, L. de Souza, I. Ferreira, I. M. Rocco, M. Burattini, A. T. da Rosa, P. F. Vasconcelos, F. P. Pinheiro, and J. W. LeDuc. 1994. New arenavirus isolated in Brazil. The Lancet. 343:391-392.

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Footnote 2

Tesh, R. B. 2002. Viral hemorrhagic fevers of South America. Biomédica. 22:287-295.

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Footnote 3

Radoshitzky, S. R., M. J. Buchmeier, R. N. Charrel, J. C. S. Clegg, J. J. Gonzalez, S. Günther, J. Hepojoki, J. H. Kuhn, I. S. Lukashevich, and V. Romanowski. 2019. ICTV virus taxonomy profile: Arenaviridae. J. Gen. Virol. 100:1200-1201.

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Footnote 4

Gonzalez, J. P. J., M. D. Bowen, S. T. Nichol, and R. Rico-Hesse. 1996. Genetic characterization and phylogeny of Sabia virus, an emergent pathogen in Brazil. Virology. 221:318-324.

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Footnote 5

Hallam, S. J., T. Koma, J. Maruyama, and S. Paessler. 2018. Review of Mammarenavirus biology and replication. Frontiers in Microbiology. 9:1751.

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Footnote 6

Burrell, C. J., C. R. Howard, and F. A. Murphy. 2017. Chapter 30 - Arenaviruses, p. 425-436. C. J. Burrell, C. R. Howard, and F. A. Murphy (eds.), Fenner and White's Medical Virology (Fifth Edition). Academic Press, London.

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Footnote 7

Radoshitzky, S. R., J. Abraham, C. F. Spiropoulou, J. H. Kuhn, D. Nguyen, W. Li, J. Nagel, P. J. Schmidt, J. H. Nunberg, and N. C. Andrews. 2007. Transferrin receptor 1 is a cellular receptor for New World haemorrhagic fever arenaviruses. Nature. 446:92-96.

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Footnote 8

Charrel, R. N., and X. d. Lamballerie. 2003. Arenaviruses other than Lassa virus. Antiviral Res. 57:89-100.

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Footnote 9

Barry, M., M. Russi, L. Armstrong, D. Geller, R. Tesh, L. Dembry, J. P. Gonzalez, A. S. Khan, and C. J. Peters. 1995. Treatment of a laboratory-acquired Sabiá virus infection. N. Engl. J. Med. 333:294-296.

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Footnote 10

de Mello Malta, F., D. Amgarten, A. C. S. S. Nastri, Y. L. Ho, L. V. Boas Casadio, M. Basqueira, G. Selegatto, M. C. Cervato, A. N. Duarte-Neto, H. R. Higashino, F. A. Faustino Medeiros, J. L. P. L. Gendler, A. S. Levin, and J. R. R. Pinho. 2020. Sabia virus-like Mammarenavirus in patient with fatal hemorrhagic fever, Brazil, 2020. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 26:1332-1334.

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Footnote 11

Figueiredo, L. T. M. 2006. Febres hemorrágicas por vírus no Brasil. Rev. Soc. Bras. Med. Trop. 39:203-210.

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Footnote 12

Ellwanger, J. H., and J. A. B. Chies. 2017. Keeping track of hidden dangers-The short history of the Sabiá virus. Rev. Soc. Bras. Med. Trop. 50:3-8.

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Footnote 13

da Costa Vasconcelos, Pedro Fernando, S. G. Rodrigues, R. Tesh, da Rosa, Jorge Fernando Soares Travassos, and da Rosa, Elizabeth Salbé Travassos. 1993. Infecção humana adquirida em laboratório causada pelo virus SP H 114202 (Arenavirus: família Arenaviridae): aspectos clínicos e laboratoriais. Revista do Instituto De Medicina Tropical De São Paulo. 35:521-525.

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Footnote 14

Radoshitzky, S., J. Kuhn, P. Jahrling, and S. Bavari. 2018. Hemorrhagic fever-causing mammarenaviruses, p. 517-545. J. Bozue, C. Cote, and P. Glass (eds.), Medical Aspects of Biological Warfare, 2nd ed., Office of the Surgeon General, Borden Institute, US Army Medical Department Center and School, Health Readiness Center of Excellence.

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Footnote 15

Charrel, R. N., and X. de Lamballerie. 2010. Zoonotic aspects of arenavirus infections. Vet. Microbiol. 140:213-220.

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Footnote 16

Larson, R. A., D. Dai, V. T. Hosack, Y. Tan, T. C. Bolken, D. E. Hruby, and S. M. Amberg. 2008. Identification of a broad-spectrum arenavirus entry inhibitor. J. Virol. 82:10768-10775.

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Footnote 17

Lin, Q., J. Y. Lim, K. Xue, P. Y. M. Yew, C. Owh, P. L. Chee, and X. J. Loh. 2020. Sanitizing agents for virus inactivation and disinfection. View. 1:e16.

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Footnote 18

Krauss, H., A. Weber, M. Appel, B. Enders, H. D. Isenberg, H. G. Schiefer, W. Slenczka, A. Von Graevenitz, and H. Zahner. 2003. Zoonoses: infectious diseases transmissible from animals to humans. ASM press, Washington, DC.

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Footnote 19

Collins, C. H., and D. A. Kennedy. 1999. Laboratory-acquired infections: history, incidence, causes, and prevention. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, UK.

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Footnote 20

Elliott, L. H., J. B. McCormick, and K. M. Johnson. 1982. Inactivation of Lassa, Marburg, and Ebola viruses by gamma irradiation. J. Clin. Microbiol. 16:704-708.

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Footnote 21

Mitchell, S. W., and J. B. McCormick. 1984. Physicochemical inactivation of Lassa, Ebola, and Marburg viruses and effect on clinical laboratory analyses. J. Clin. Microbiol. 20:486-489.

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Footnote 22

Jay, M. T., C. Glaser, and C. F. Fulhorst. 2005. The arenaviruses. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 227:904-915.

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Footnote 23

Nakauchi, M., S. Fukushi, M. Saijo, T. Mizutani, A. E. Ure, V. Romanowski, I. Kurane, and S. Morikawa. 2009. Characterization of monoclonal antibodies to Junin virus nucleocapsid protein and application to the diagnosis of hemorrhagic fever caused by South American arenaviruses. Clin. Vaccine Immunol. 16:1132-1138.

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Footnote 24

Fukushi, S., H. Tani, T. Yoshikawa, M. Saijo, and S. Morikawa. 2012. Serological assays based on recombinant viral proteins for the diagnosis of arenavirus hemorrhagic fevers. Viruses. 4:2097-2114.

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Footnote 25

Bossi, P., A. Tegnell, A. Baka, F. Van Loock, J. Hendriks, A. Werner, H. Maidhof, G. Gouvras, and Task Force on Biological and Chemical Agent Threats, Public Health Directorate, European Commission, Luxembourg. 2004. Bichat guidelines for the clinical management of haemorrhagic fever viruses and bioterrorism-related haemorrhagic fever viruses. Euro Surveill. 9:1-8.

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Footnote 26

Government of Canada. 2020. ePATHogen - Risk Group Database. 

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Footnote 27

Public Health Agency of Canada. 2019. Human Pathogens and Toxins Act (HPTA) (S.C. 2009, c.24). 

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Footnote 28

Government of Canada. 2019. Health of Animals Act (S.C. 1990, c. 21).

Return to first footnote 28 referrer

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