Smallpox is supposed to be kept in only two secured labs in the world, one in Russia and the other in the U.S., per international agreement. Yet somehow, scientists cleaning out an old government lab in Bethesda, Maryland, stumbled across several vials marked "variola"— A.K.A. smallpox.
Workers with the National Institutes of Health found the vials last week in a storage room that used to belong to the FDA, the CDC said in a statement. The vials, which probably date back to the 1950s, were transported to a secure CDC facility in Atlanta.
The discovery came a few weeks after dozens of government scientists were potentially exposed to anthrax after failing to properly deactivate it.