Frozen vials labeled “Smallpox” were recently discovered by a lab worker at a Pennsylvania facility that conducts vaccine research, federal officials said.
The vials were found while the worker was cleaning a freezer at the unspecified facility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“CDC, its administrative partners, and police are investigating the matter and the contents of the vials appear intact,” a CDC spokesman told The Associated Press.
“The worker who discovered the vials wore gloves and a face mask. There is no indication that anyone was exposed to the small number of frozen vials. “
Smallpox is a deadly disease that was eradicated worldwide in 1980.
Caused by the smallpox virus, smallpox has plagued the world for centuries and killed nearly a third of the people it has infected.
The World Health Organization has designated two sites in the world where smallpox virus stocks are stored and used for research: the CDC facility in Atlanta and a center in Russia.
The CDC said smallpox research in the United States revolves around the development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests to protect people from the infectious disease in case it is used as an agent of bioterrorism.
With Postal wires