The FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are looking into “questionable vials” marked “smallpox” at a Merck research lab in Pennsylvania.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, fifteen vials were discovered in a freezer.
The discovery of the vials resulted in the facility being placed under lockdown, which has since been lifted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement to CNN, “There is no indication that anyone has been exposed to the small number of frozen vials.”
“The frozen vials labeled ‘Smallpox’ were incidentally discovered by a laboratory worker while cleaning out a freezer in a facility that conducts vaccine research in Pennsylvania. CDC, its Administration partners, and law enforcement are investigating the matter and the vials’ contents appear intact,” it said.
The vast majority of Americans have not been immunised against smallpox, and those who have been vaccinated are likely to have waning immunity.
According to Yahoo, the CDC will arrive on site to take custody of the vials and transport them to another facility for testing.
Smallpox is considered so risky that only two labs in the world are permitted to store virus samples, one in Russia and the other with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
Smallpox is declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1980.