Easily Weaponized Virus Goes Missing From Texas Lab

 

 

 

” Whatever you do, don’t go making out with any mice for a little bit: a Texas laboratory has misplaced a small vial containing a rodent borne virus that has been linked to several deaths.

University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) President David L. Callender says that a vial holding a small portion of the South American virus Guanarito has gone missing.

The exotic strain, first discovered in Venezuela in the 1980s, can cause infected humans to contract a rare hemorrhagic fever that, with symptoms such as high temperature, convulsions and hemorrhaging has a mortality rate of just over 23 percent. Between 1989 and 2006, Venezuelan government has spotted over 600 cases of the illness.

Callender insists in a statement emailed to UTMB employees last week that the virus is “not known to be transmitted from person-to-person and therefore poses no appreciable public health risk.” Because of the very real possibility of terrorists using samples of the virus for biological weapons, however, the US Centers for Disease Control considers Guanarito to be a Biosafety Level 4 risk and requires it to be stored among the most secure facilities in the country.

“Biosafety Level 4 is required for work with dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infections and life-threatening disease that is frequently fatal, for which there are no vaccines or treatments, or a related agent with unknown risk of transmission,” the CDC explains.”

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