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Science & Technology

Vials of smallpox found in a cardboard box

July 13, 2014 | Comment icon 25 comments



Smallpox was eradicated back in the 1980s. Image Credit: PD - John Keith
A US government scientist discovered the forgotten vials at a research center near Washington.
Six freeze-dried vials of the deadly disease, which had previously been declared eradicated in the 1980s, were found contained within a cardboard box in an unused storage room of a Food and Drug Administration laboratory.

Specialists from the CDC were called in to investigate what is being regarded as the first case of unaccounted-for smallpox being discovered in the United States.

"There is no evidence that any of the vials labelled variola has been breached, and onsite biosafety personnel have not identified any infectious exposure risk to lab workers or the public," the agency said in a statement.

The vials, which have since been taken to a secure facility, are believed to date back to the 1950s.

Source: BBC News | Comments (25)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by Stellar 7 years ago
There's a gene mutation known as CCR5 delta 32 that's been known to resist the aids virus and it's believed to have mutated/come about from the bubonic plague. This may be the only hope for those of us who are not vaccinated from the small pox, should there ever be an outbreak in the future. What does anything you said have to do with smallpox?
Comment icon #17 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
It is good to know that the government is tracking their infectious agents better then a corner dime store tracks their inventory. NOT! I do believe that myself and many (most?) military individuals all got smallpox inoculations while in the service. I'd have to go check my military records to be sure though.
Comment icon #18 Posted by magikgoddess 7 years ago
What does anything you said have to do with smallpox? It had to do with vaccinations, or lack there for of. Certain mutations can be beneficial to outbreaks we're not prepared for is all I was trying to say.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Silent Trinity 7 years ago
There is careless, then there is friggin stupidity...Imagine leaving one of the most deadly scourges to mankind just lying around .... forgotten?! As others have stated, whether the contents are still viable is another question, but with small pox you do not take any friggin chances! This is a scary post, just from the many 'what ifs' could have resulted from the discovery.... close one fellow humans!
Comment icon #20 Posted by stevemagegod 7 years ago
Really a Cardboard box? Mind as well be under someone's bed.....
Comment icon #21 Posted by Calibeliever 7 years ago
One of these days their luck is going to run out and something like this will fall into someone's hands who doesn't have humanity's best at heart. The trouble with a massive secret infrastructure that protects viruses, technology, weapons, etc, is that if that infrastructre begins to decay, the security protocols develop leaks. There is some really deadly stuff out there just waiting to be 'misplaced' and found by someone we don't want finding it. It scares the living heck out of me I don't mind saying.
Comment icon #22 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
It had to do with vaccinations, or lack there for of. Certain mutations can be beneficial to outbreaks we're not prepared for is all I was trying to say. I agree with you. Vaccinations are needed. Having said that I'll probably have all of the Autism groups on my butt.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Sundew 7 years ago
If I remember my history, the original vaccination involved giving a related, but rather innocuous, harmless virus (Cowpox) to volunteers, who then became immune to Smallpox. It was noticed that milkmaids who contracted Cowpox from cows had immunity to Smallpox. I suppose this could be one way to inoculate people today if there is no more Smallpox vaccine and it were to escape a lab.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Sundew 7 years ago
Various forms of death stalking humanity. From Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe, starring Vincent Price.
Comment icon #25 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
If I remember my history, the original vaccination involved giving a related, but rather innocuous, harmless virus (Cowpox) to volunteers, who then became immune to Smallpox. It was noticed that milkmaids who contracted Cowpox from cows had immunity to Smallpox. I suppose this could be one way to inoculate people today if there is no more Smallpox vaccine and it were to escape a lab. Apparently Cowpox still exists..... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowpox Today, the virus is found in Europe, mainly in the UK. Human cases are very rare (though in 2010 a laboratory worker contracted cowpox.[11]) ... [More]


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