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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