Effective Chemical Inactivation of Ebola Virus

Elaine Haddock; Friederike Feldmann; Heinz Feldmann


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2016;22(7):1292-1294. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Reliable inactivation of specimens before removal from high-level biocontainment is crucial for safe operation. To evaluate efficacy of methods of chemical inactivation, we compared in vitro and in vivo approaches using Ebola virus as a surrogate pathogen. Consequently, we have established parameters and protocols leading to reliable and effective inactivation.


The safe operation of high-level biocontainment laboratories throughout the world is of highest importance. These laboratories are under stringent national oversight and must adhere to international guidelines. Laboratories in the United States that handle select agents are further regulated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Select Agents and Toxins and the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Proper and reliable inactivation of specimens destined for removal from high-level biocontainment is a critical aspect for laboratory certification and operation. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are approved by institutional biosafety committees in most cases and additionally by state and/or national regulatory authorities in other cases. In the past, specimens were commonly inactivated on the basis of operational experiences rather than well-documented protocols.[1–3]

To evaluate the efficacy of chemical inactivation procedures for specimen removal, we used the US prime select agent and Tier-1 pathogen[4] Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV) as a surrogate model for enveloped high-level containment viruses with single-strand, negative-sense RNA genomes, such as arenaviruses, bunyaviruses, filoviruses, orthomyxoviruses, and paramyxoviruses. These viruses share certain biologic, biochemical, and structural features, making them sensitive to the same chemical inactivation methods. Furthermore, EBOV is currently a prominent example as the causative agent of an unprecedented epidemic in West Africa.[5,6]