The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the discovery of vials that are labeled “smallpox” at a laboratory in Pennsylvania, the health agency said on Thursday.
The frozen vials “were incidentally discovered by a laboratory worker while cleaning out a freezer in a facility that conducts vaccine research in Pennsylvania,” Belsie González, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C., said in an email on Thursday.
She stated that the C.D.C. She said that the C.D.C. was working with law enforcement officials in order to investigate the vials. According to the agency, the vials were intact.
“The laboratory worker who discovered the vials was wearing gloves and a face mask,” she said. “There is no indication that anyone has been exposed to the small number of frozen vials. We will provide further details as they are available.”
The C.D.C. The C.D.C. didn’t say where in Pennsylvania they were discovered or how many.
Mark O’Neill, a press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said there were a “small number of vials” found at a Merck facility in Montgomery County, outside Philadelphia.
Merck did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. The F.B.I. The F.B.I. referred inquiries to C.D.C.
“The Pennsylvania Department of Health would like to stress that there has been no known threat to public health and safety,” Mr. O’Neill said. “As referenced by the C.D.C., there is no indication that anyone was exposed to the small number of frozen vials that were labeled ‘smallpox.’”
Citing a notification from the state’s department of health, Kelly Cofrancisco, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Office of Communications, said there was a total of “15 questionable vials” with five labeled as “smallpox” and 10 as “vaccinia.”
Smallpox, an infection caused by the Variola virus, has been causing devastating outbreaks for centuries. About three out of 10 cases are fatal, according the C.D.C.
Symptoms include a very high fever, and a blistering, progressive skin eruption.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus claimed the lives 300 million people.
C.D.C. can be called upon in the event that there is an outbreak. said, “there is enough smallpox vaccine to vaccinate every person in the United States.”
According to the agency, the 1949 outbreak of smallpox was the last time that smallpox occurred in the United States. According to the W.H.O.
The W.H.O. The W.H.O. stated that there were two licensed repositories of variola viruses stocks with the C.D.C. Atlanta and at Russia. Six glass vials containing the smallpox virus were discovered in a Washington government laboratory. C.D.C. According to the C.D.C., there was no evidence that either lab workers or members of the public were exposed to the contents.
C.D.C. The C.D.C. stated that smallpox research was conducted in the United States to develop vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic tests to protect against smallpox.
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said that smallpox can be lethal “even after it is freeze-dried.”
He said that because of its highly infectious nature, “the virus itself must be kept cold.” At room temperature after many years, he said, it was “unlikely that the virus would retain any ability to infect people.”
Dr. Glatter stated that there is a constant debate over whether governments should retain virus samples or eliminate all known copies.
Source: NY Times