Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vial with virus goes missing

It was a small news blurb...

but it had a headline that made me wonder why it wasn't of greater concern: Virus vial missing from Galveston lab.

A vial containing the "Guanarito virus" that causes hemorrhagic fever was noticed to have been absent from the Galvaston National Laboratory in Texas.  The Center for Disease Control assures that there is "no threat to the public" and that the vial was likely destroyed during routine cleaning procedures.  There was no breach of security at the lab.

Turns out that the Guanarito virus is spread only by Venezuelan rats.  Therefore, one can only contract the virus if bitten by a Venezuelan rat as the virus is thought to be unable to survive in U.S. rodents.

This reminds me somewhat of a 2005 case at a lab in New Jersey where three lab mice went missing.  These mice were infected with the plague...also known as the "black death" that killed half of Europe once upon a time.  The FBI investigated the matter and again it was concluded that there was no threat to public safety.  Must not have been as I can't recall any sweeping outbreaks of the plague in the years since 2005.

That does not mean we will always be so lucky.  The plague and many other variations of viral infection await in labs and it only takes one careless mistake to set them lose.  A virus is one tough organism.  Eventually, we're going to meet one that is our better...and we will have no course of action against it.

Sorry.  That's all I got.  Today has sucked.    

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