The vials contain no trace of the virus that causes smallpox

The vials contain no trace of the virus that causes smallpox

Philadelphia – Federal health officials said that frozen vials labeled “smallpox” that were discovered in a refrigerator at the Vaccine Research Facility in Pennsylvania “contain no trace of a virus known to cause smallpox.”

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, Thursday, that tests showed that the vials contained “the vaccine, the virus used in the smallpox vaccine” and not the smallpox virus that causes smallpox.

The CDC said Monday that the vials were “accidentally discovered by a lab worker” who was wearing gloves and a face mask while cleaning out the freezer. The CDC said no one was exposed to the contents.

Mark O’Neill, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, told the New York Times that the vials were found at Merck’s facility in Montgomery County.

It was not clear why the bottles were in the freezer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was “in close contact with state and local health officials, law enforcement, and the World Health Organization” about the findings.


Smallpox is a deadly and contagious disease that has plagued the world for centuries and killed nearly a third of people infected with it. Victims experienced high fevers and body aches, then spots and blisters that would leave survivors with etched scars.

The United States ended routine vaccination of children against the disease by the early 1970s and said that the last natural outbreak in the country occurred in 1949. In 1980, the World Health Assembly declared smallpox eradicated.

There are two locations identified by the World Health Organization where stocks of smallpox virus are stored and used for research: a CDC facility in Atlanta and a center in Russia.

Smallpox research in the United States is focused on developing vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic tests to protect people from smallpox in the event it is used as a bioterrorism agent, according to the CDC.

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