Researchers who found glass vials of live smallpox in a federal government lab also found more than 300 vials labeled as other potentially deadly germs, including dengue fever, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday. "The investigation found 12 boxes containing a total of 327 carefully packaged vials labeled with names of various biological agents such as dengue, influenza, Q fever, and rickettsia," the FDA said in a statement. The smallpox samples have already been tested and, to the surprise of many, were still viable, or alive.
The vials were in a walk-in cold room on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, but had been turned over to FDA and was not frequently accessed. "The fact that these materials were not discovered until now is unacceptable," said Dr. Karen Midthun, director of FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
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First published July 16 2014, 1:34 PM
Maggie Fox is senior health writer for NBCNews.com and TODAY.com, writing top news on health policy, medical treatments and disease.
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She's a former managing editor for healthcare and technology at National Journal and global health and science editor for Reuters based in Washington, D.C. and London.
She's reported for news agencies, radio, newspapers, magazines and television from across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe covering news ranging from war to politics and, of course, health and science. Her reporting has taken Maggie to Lebanon, Syria and Libya; to China, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Pakistan; to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and to Ireland and Northern Ireland and across the rest of Europe.
Maggie has won awards from the Society of Business Editors and Writers, the National Immunization Program, the Overseas Press Club and other organizations. She's done fellowships at Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Maryland.