CDC says vials containing mystery virus found

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says two vials of a forgotten virus have been found in a storage room of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, but health officials don’t believe that the vials contain smallpox, a deadly disease that cannot be transferred from person to person.

CNN first reported on the recovery of the vials on Sunday. The vials are small, brown glass vials, similar to those found in the cabinets that contained decades of unused VX nerve agent in Moscow, Russia, CNN said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the vials contained any of the other deadly viruses the CDC had at the time of the purge, such as Ebola, or other viruses such as smallpox.

The smallpox virus at the CDC “does not pose any danger to the public,” the CDC said in a statement.

The VX nerve agent cache in Moscow was uncovered in August 2013. CNN later reported that the vials found in the Moscow cabinets were thought to have contained nerve agent, but tests by Russia’s General Intelligence Service found that they contained no such element.

Smallpox was eliminated from the United States in 1980, but smallpox has not been eradicated worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

About 1.4 million Americans are believed to have smallpox, the WHO says.

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