FDA Finds More Than Smallpox in NIH Vials

Dengue, rickettsia, others found in abandoned lab.

The Food and Drug Administration found dozens more vials of pathogens in a National Institutes of Health storeroom on July 1, the administration announced Wednesday.

Researchers found 12 boxes containing 327 vials containing biological agents dengue, influenza, rickettsia and Q fever among others, the FDA reported. Earlier in July, the FDA found nine vials of smallpox virus in the same abandoned laboratory on the NIH’s Bethesda campus.

More than 30 vials found near the smallpox virus were sent to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for testing and storage. Another 279 vials were sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for further testing. That is where the other pathogens were discovered.

FDA officials called the finding “clearly unacceptable” in the release and said the administration was conducting a review of all other storage areas to ensure no other pathogens were left unattended.

Those vials are thought to have been amassed between 1946 and 1964 when regulations regarding the collection and storage of pathogens were more lax.

All the diseases, the release said, were kept in glass, heat-sealed vials and showed no signs of breach or leakage.

Officials said there is no health risk to the public or the scientists who discovered the deserted containers.

These reports come on the heels of findings last month that 80 CDC employees may have mishandled live anthrax when samples were transferred between labs.


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