A lab sample believed to contain the infectious virus “smallpox” did not contain the highly lethal disease, the CDC said on Tuesday. Investigators found what appeared to be smallpox-like material in a vial at a research facility in Maryland, according to a report from Reuters, but said it had no lab-confirmed link to the death of a sick man at the facility.
The CDC is investigating the situation and preliminary findings indicated that the vial had been “simply mislabeled,” the department said in a statement. The CDC has acknowledged that there may be other samples of smallpox at the facility, but has said it has no evidence of a possible release of the disease.
Researchers were considering the smallpox sample’s findings in the background of an investigation into the death of Charlie Smith, 51, who fell ill with a bacterial infection and then died on June 15. His personal effects and belongings were sent to a microbiology lab, where he sent a sample of his drawers and an envelope containing what looked like smallpox contamination to a countertop lab. Smith had worked in an infectious disease lab as a physicist. His family said they had concerns that the smallpox sample, found not to contain the virus, could be related to his death.
The CDC said the smallpox sample was “atypical of the virus that causes smallpox” but it could not confirm whether it contained any agents of the disease. Smallpox has no modern-day functioning vaccines, so scientists who have tried to contact anyone who came into contact with the sample to notify them that there is no danger are not sure if those people will respond, the CDC said.
Read the full story at Reuters.
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