Deadly virus specimen goes missing in Texas laboratory

Texas Capitol

by Jon Campbell

Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas—A deadly virus vial has gone missing from a Texas research facility that can cause hemorrhagic fever, according to reports Monday. The virus, originally found in Venezuela, is called Guanarito, according to the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Officials do not believe that there is any threat to the public at this time, and they have confirmed there was no breach in security at the Galveston National Laboratory. In a statement into the incident university president Dr. David L. Callender stated that doctors had carried out a routine inspection on March 20 and 21, 2013, but were unable to locate one vial of the deadly virus that they had expected to find.

The vial was supposed to have been stored in a locked freezer inside a secure laboratory, the president confirmed, but it was not where it was supposed to be. The virus is reportedly transmitted only through contact with Venezuelan rats, and is not believed to be able to survive in U.S. rodents. Officials have also stated that the virus is not thought to be able to be transmitted person-to-person.

The university has confirmed that this is the first time that a vial had gone missing from one of their labs. Although investigations are continuing, university officials have said they believe the vial was most likely destroyed during a cleaning process at the laboratory.

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