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N.I.H. discovers improperly stored ricin, other dangerous pathogens

The National Institutes of Health discovered improperly stored dangerous pathogens in a sweep of its laboratories, the agency announced on Friday.

Following the discovery of vials of improperly stored smallpox in a lab in July, the N.I.H. has been checking all of its facilities for other breaches in lab protocol. The search turned up a bottle of ricin in a box dated 1914, along with samples of pathogens that cause botulism, plague, and melioidosis, a rare tropical infection. The samples were found in collections that dated back prior to the N.I.H.'s more stringent regulations, from an era when scientists kept such dangerous pathogens on common freezers and shelves.

"The finding of these agents highlights the need for constant vigilance in monitoring laboratory materials in compliance with federal regulations on biosafety," a memo from the agency stated.