Vials of Smallpox found in Pennsylvania facility
According to recent reports, frozen vials labelled Smallpox have been found in a facility in Pensylvannia. Various news sources are reporting that 15 vials were "incidentally discovered" by a lab worker a Merck facility, 5 are labelled smallpox and the rest labelled vaccinia. The lab worker was wearing PPE, the contents of the vials are frozen and appear to be intact.
The CDC has now launched an investigation, in conjunction with the FBI, into how and why these samples came to be there. There are only 2 sites designated by the World Health Organization where stocks of variola virus are stored and used for research, the CDC facility in Atlanta and a center in Russia.
This is of course not the first time we have seen this exact incident, in July 2014, a government scientist cleaning out an old storage room at an NIH facility found six decades-old glass vials containing freeze-dried smallpox samples packed away and forgotten in a cardboard box. Officials called it the first discovery of unaccounted-for smallpox in the country.
We will keep our eyes on this story and post more when it becomes available.