Friday, July 11, 2014

Live, Growing Smallpox Sample Vials Found In Forgotten US Lab-Storage Bins

Well -- this ought to "shiver our collective timbers"!

While not exclusively applicable as a Merck story (it is a vaccines story certainly, though), the idea that there might be likely lethal, but casually-stored 1950s era live virus vials floating around old labs. . . is deeply unsettling. From CNN online then:

. . . .At least two of the vials employees at the National Institutes of Health found in an unused storage room earlier this month contain viable samples of the deadly smallpox virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Employees found six forgotten vials when they were preparing to move a lab from the Food and Drug Administration’s Bethesda, Maryland, campus to a different location. The laboratory had been used by the NIH but was transferred to the FDA in 1972.

When the scientists found the vials, they immediately put them in a containment lab and on July 1 notified the branch of the government that deals with toxic substances, called the Division of Select Agents and Toxins. . . .

Smallpox, known also by its scientific name as variola, was the deadly virus that was the scourge of civilization for centuries. It's been considered an eradicated disease since 1980, following successful worldwide vaccination programs. The last known outbreak in the U.S. was in 1947 in New York. . . .

This sort of thing is a scientist's worst fear: a disease we eradicated almost four decades ago -- springing back into the wild -- because some samples were forgotten, and not incinerated or irradiated. Good sci fi -- very scary Andromeda Strain style reality scenario. Have safe weekends, one and all -- and get, or stay. . . healthy!

No comments: