And here I thought “Go on vacation for two weeks, and when you come home everything in your frig has turned into a science experiment” was a joke… From the Washington Post:
A government scientist cleaning out a storage room at a lab on the NIH Bethesda campus found decades-old vials of smallpox last week, the second incident involving the mishandling of a highly dangerous pathogen by a federal health agency in a month.
The vials, which appear to date from the 1950s, were flown Sunday night by government plane to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, officials said Tuesday. Initial testing confirmed the presence of smallpox virus DNA. Further testing, which could take up to two weeks, will determine whether the material is live. The samples will be destroyed after the testing is completed…
An FDA scientist found a cardboard box on July 1 containing glass vials, each several inches long, sealed with melted glass. The box was lined with cotton padding, Skinner said. Several vials were labeled flu virus or other specimens. Sixteen other vials were either labeled “variola,” or smallpox, or suspected of containing smallpox virus. All the vials were immediately secured in a containment laboratory on the NIH. The 16 suspect vials were flown to Atlanta. Testing confirmed the presence of smallpox virus DNA in six.
“This was a lab that didn’t realize it had these vials,” said Skinner. Because the vials are made of glass and sealed with melted glass, officials say the vials appear to date to the 1950s. He said the material could have been sitting around in the storage room “unbeknownst to the people up there for many years.”…
Apart from an uneasy feeling about those dusty shelves in the back of the garage, what’s on the agenda for the evening?