Health

Long-Forgotten Vials Of Bubonic Plague, Ricin Found In Government Labs

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A search triggered after the discovery of smallpox at a National Institutes of Health lab has turned up a number of unregulated fatal substances in government labs.

Vials of ricin and pathogens that cause botulism, the plague and a rare tropical infect were discovered and destroyed.

Some of the substances dated back nearly 100 years.

The NIH said labs were cleared to use the substances and that they were checked regularly. The latest discovery, however, is from a historical collection that was stored without regulation.

Officials said the vials were improperly stored but were inside seal containers and no employees were are risk of infection, BBC News reported.

"NIH takes this matter very seriously,” NIH Director Francis Collins wrote in a statement Friday. “The finding of these agents highlights the need for constant vigilance in monitoring laboratory materials in compliance with federal regulations on biosafety.”

The smallpox uncovered in July is believed to be dead. It was located in six freeze-dried and sealed vials. It is believed to be the first time unaccounted-for smallpox was found in the U.S.

Sources: BBC News, RT.com

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier