(AbsoluteNews.com) – In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the deadly variola (smallpox) virus was eradicated. It was welcome news to a world that was once ravaged by the disease. Recently, a discovery in a Pennsylvania lab reminded people of the horrific dangers of the virus.
On November 15, the CDC confirmed vials labeled “smallpox” were found in a freezer being cleaned out at a vaccine research facility outside Philadelphia. The FBI and disease control agency quickly jumped into action and began investigating the incident at the Merck Upper Gwynedd facility, forcing it into lockdown. On Thursday, just a few days later, the CDC announced the vials didn’t contain any traces of smallpox, but instead contained vaccinia, the material used to make the vaccine for the virus.
Not smallpox: Vials found in a lab freezer in Pittsburgh that were labeled "smallpox" did not in fact contain the eradicated virus, @CDCgov announced this evening. They contained vaccinia, a related virus that is less harmful & is used as the basis of #smallpox vaccine.#Phew! pic.twitter.com/OSwgMk7cf7
— Helen Branswell (@HelenBranswell) November 19, 2021
The news that the vials didn’t contain smallpox was a relief. The virus plagued the world for centuries. It killed more than 300 million people from 1900 until it was finally eradicated in 1977. People who contracted the disease came down with flu-like symptoms and often got horrible skin lesions. One-third of the people who came down with the virus eventually died from it. Those who survived were often left with terrible scars.
In modern times, the virus only lives in two very secure labs in Russia and the US. The governments have studied smallpox just in case there’s a bioterrorism attack, but there’s a lot of debate within the scientific community about whether the countries should destroy the samples. What do you think?
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