(WASHINGTONPOST) — Today in smallpox, apparently: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that employees at the National Institutes of Health found some vials containing smallpox sitting in a laboratory storage room in Bethesda. These vials were labeled “variola,” which the CDC calls “the severe and most common form of smallpox.”
The vials were discovered last week in an unused part of a storage room inside a laboratory operated by the Food and Drug Administration, the CDC said in a news release. They were found by employees preparing to move the lab, which has been operated by the FDA since 1972, over to the main FDA campus.
Authorities said there was no indication that anyone had been exposed to smallpox, and they said no risk to workers or the public has been found. The vials originated in the 1950s, according to the CDC. (The last smallpox case in the United States occurred in 1949.)
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