The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement on newly discovered smallpox specimens.
CDC employees discovered vials labeled "variola," commonly known as smallpox, in an unused portion of a storage room in a Food and Drug Administration laboratory located on the NIH Bethesda campus.
The vials appear to date from the 1950s, according to CDC Senior Press Officer Benjamin Haynes.
Upon discovery, the vials were immediately secured in a containment laboratory in Bethesda.
There is no evidence that any of the vials labeled variola has been breached, and onsite biosafety personnel have not identified any infectious exposure risk to lab workers or the public, according to a CDC release.
The vials were sent to CDC’s high-containment facility in Atlanta. Overnight testing in the lab confirmed the presence of variola virus DNA.
Additional testing of the variola samples is under way to determine if the material in the vials is viable, according to Haynes. Testing could take up to 2 weeks.