Disease and Conditions

Vial containing strain of potentially deadly virus missing from Texas laboratory

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 18:20 EST, 24  March 2013 |  UPDATED: 18:20 EST, 24 March 2013


A small vial containing a potentially harmful  strain of virus has gone missing from a Texas laboratory, it was revealed  today.

The vial, which contains a strain of the  Guanarito virus, had been locked in a bio-hazard freezer within the University  of Texas’ Medical Branch campus.

The strain of virus is part of a family of  diseases that caused deadly outbreaks in Venezuela and could cause hemorrhagic  fever.


A small vial containing a potentially harmful strain of  virus has gone missing from a Texas laboratory (file photo)

Officials at the UTMB noticed that a single  vial of the substance was missing from the freezer early last week,  the Houston Chronicle reported.

UTMB director Scott Weaver told the paper  that Guanarito has been responsible for causing deadly diseases within the South  American country.

Government officials have made studying the  strain a priority as it can potentially be used by terrorists in a contagion  attack.

Upon discovery that one out of the five vials  at the lab was missing, officials contacted the Centers for Disease Control and  Prevention.

They said that there was no security breach  or break-in at the Texas facility, nor was there any suspicion of foul play.


The vial was housed at the University of Texas Medical  Branch in Galveston; officials believe there was no foul play and that the vial  could have simply broken in the lab’s cleaning process

Officials further added that they believe the  vial could have been accidentally destroyed during the lab’s cleaning  process.

The virus is transmitted through contact with  infected Venezuelan rats, but scientists do not believe it can survive on U.S.  rats.

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