Medical Technology

CDC: Vials Have No Trace of Smallpox Virus

PHILADELPHIA, AP — Federal health officials stated that frozen vials labelled Smallpox found in a Pennsylvania vaccine research facility “contain not a trace of the virus responsible for smallpox.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that testing found that the vials contain “vaccinia the virus that is used in smallpox vaccine” and not the variola virus, which causes smallpox.

Monday’s statement by the CDC stated that the vials were discovered by a laboratory worker wearing gloves and a mask while cleaning out the freezer. The CDC stated that nobody was exposed to the contents.

Mark O’Neill, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, told the New York Times that the vials were discovered in the Merck facility located in Montgomery County.

It was not clear what the reason the vials had been placed in the freezer. The CDC said it was “in close communication with local and state health officials, law enforcement agencies, and the World Health Organization” about the findings.

Smallpox is an extremely deadly infectious disease that plagued the world for centuries, and killed more than a third of the people it affected. The victims experienced a fever that was scorching hot and body aches, then blisters and spots which left pitted marks.

The United States stopped routine childhood vaccination against the disease in the 1970s. They also declared that the last natural outbreak in the country occurred in 1949. The World Health Assembly declared smallpox eliminated in 1980.

The WHO has identified two sites where the stock of variola viruses can be stored and used to conduct research by the virus. an Atlanta CDC facility and an American center.

Smallpox research in the United States focuses on the development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests to safeguard people from smallpox in the possibility of it being used as a weapon of bioterrorism, according to the CDC.

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The Medical Progress

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