Frozen 'Smallpox' Vials Discovered in Pennsylvania: CDC

Getty Images
Getty Images

It's not clear where exactly the vials were found, but officials said no one was exposed to the virus.

Federal health authorities said they have discovered frozen vials labeled “Smallpox” in a freezer in Pennsylvania that conducts vaccine research, CBS News reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the vials "were incidentally discovered by a laboratory worker" who was cleaning out a freezer, CBS News reported. It was not confirmed where in Pennsylvania the vials were found.

"CDC, its administration partners, and law enforcement are investigating the matter and the vials' contents appear intact," CDC spokesperson Belsie González told the station. "The laboratory worker who discovered the vials was wearing gloves and a face mask.”

Gonzalez also said that there was no “indication” that anyone had been exposed to the disease because of the vials.

Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by the variola virus that killed a third of the people it affected when it was at its high in the U.S., but in 1980, the disease was declared eradicated.

This wasn’t the first time old vials of smallpox have been found. In July 2014, officials said a scientist cleaning out a storage room in Bethesda, Maryland, found glass vials with freeze-dried smallpox samples in a box.

It was the first time unaccounted-for vials of smallpox was discovered in the country, CBS News reported.

Related Stories