Alleged that a vial of smallpox virus was found in a federal laboratory in Oak Ridge.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to scientists in the field for an unknown pathogen. The CDC says they received a phone call from a person who is a former employee of the National Institutes of Health.
“Through our investigation, we determined that a sample of C. difficile collected from a deceased nasopharyngeal swab in the spring of 2015, was sent to a CDC-contracted facility for further testing,” a public health official said.
“An oral sample collected in 2015 for a laboratory in government property was also sent to the same government property facility for further testing.”
The NIH said smallpox was never taken into their labs and the virus never ever left the facilities.
“There is no indication that any harm could have come to laboratory workers and no indication that the viruses are any different from samples previously tested at the CDC,” the CDC statement said.
Though they say the sample did not contain the deadly disease, experts are warning that smallpox could return.
“This is a very serious virus, and we don’t know what could happen from it,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said at a press conference.
Frieden said the smallpox samples recovered are all from laboratories in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world that are no longer operating, but part of the CDC’s biosecurity program.
The scientist discovered the virus, which had not yet been spread to other people, was from an NIH system, Frieden said.
Frieden said the NIH employee “got mad” when she learned some items from the lab were not properly disposed of, including the samples from smallpox.
“These are the kind of events that spur on the security program across the entire CDC,” Frieden said.
Frieden said workers recognized it was “bad science” and demanded that the samples be destroyed. That is when the CDC realized the smallpox vials had not been disposed of.
CDC agents removed the smallpox, Frieden said, which is currently at Oak Ridge National Laboratory near Knoxville, Tennessee.
Frieden said a likely source of the smallpox was at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the NIH.
“It’s a very serious virus, and we don’t know what could happen from it,” Frieden said.
Frieden said they are not sure where it came from, but concluded that it “doesn’t concern any of the work we do at the CDC.”
What do you think? The Ex-NIH Employee Who Found the Vials claims he took them from his office four years ago, but says they’ve already been destroyed. A former Biosecurity Unit Director in White House Homeland Security who used to deal with smallpox told Tucker Carlson: “The CDC has a zero tolerance for even the potential exposure of the virus.”
Would you have reacted that way if it was you who found the fragments of smallpox?