Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Employees at the National Institutes of Health recently discovered some old vials of smallpox, the deadly until it was considered eradicated in 1980. The vials appear to date back to the 1950s and were discovered in an unused part of a storeroom at a Food and Drug Administration lab in Bethesda, Maryland. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no evidence any of the vials were breached, nor were any of lab workers exposed to the virus.

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The FBI is investigating how the samples ended up where they did.

They were probably put there way back when by mistake.

If they were at room temp for years (as I'm assuming they were) they're likely not infectious anymore.

#1 | Posted by jpw at 2014-07-08 07:38 PM | Reply | Flag:

i'd hope the vials were destroyed by intense heat, regardless of whether or not they were still infectious. There's really no telling what all's out there.

#2 | Posted by kenx at 2014-07-09 06:37 AM | Reply | Flag:

Its a near certainty that some samples of all sorts of things from the last few centuries are floating around old store rooms here and there.

In some cases it could old art...
In some cases it could be deadly biological material....

#3 | Posted by USAF242 at 2014-07-09 09:08 AM | Reply | Flag:

my god smallpox would spread like wildfire

#4 | Posted by suzycreamcheese at 2014-07-09 12:19 PM | Reply | Flag:

Makes me wonder how many forgotten vials of smallpox (and other stuff) is out there, and who has possession

#5 | Posted by cgmorris at 2014-07-09 01:29 PM | Reply | Flag:

Its a solid myth that smallpox would be some sort of movie style 'outbreak' disease.

That bad for some individuals? Absolutely.
That bad for everyone? Not a chance.

The 'herd' immunity is alive and well, and will be for centuries, even with smallpox not running around. (Your mother never had to catch smallpox for you to have some natural resistance, but your 'bloodline' sure as hell needed exposure. Having said that, such immunity will go away eventually....).

Keep in mind, the 30% fatality rate you hear about INCLUDES the elderly, those already in poor health, etc. It also assumes EARLY 1900s medicine (which admittedly then AND now is just supportive care, but our supportive care is better).

And while the smallpox vaccination IS a vaccination that is harsher than average, it has the HUGE HUGE virtue of being able to give AFTER the disease is contracted (but before serious symptoms) and give some increased odds for survival.

Also, old vaccinations people got decades ago help your whole life, even without boosters. The boosters make you nearly immune, but if you were EVER vaccinated vs smallpox, you are MUCH better off than someone that was not. (Fatality for elderly people vaccinated when young, with no boosters, was less than 10%)

And if smallpox was re-introduced to the environment, we could have 99% of the country vaccinated in a few weeks, tops.

I'd be really really really surprised if accidental re-introduction killed more than few 100 in the initial release. ("Attck" re-introduction could be worse, but would still not be anything like 'out-break').

Having said that, re-introduction would almost certainly kill millions world wide before it got shoved back into a bottle. And every damn terror group out there would collect samples off the sick and dying.

And that 30% fatality number is NOT for the population, it is for the infected. So even if that number holds true, the population fatality rate would be a LOT less.

Horrible? Yes.
Vastly worse than anything we've ever seen? Yes.
But still not 'outbreak'.

#6 | Posted by USAF242 at 2014-07-10 09:37 AM | Reply | Flag:

"they're likely not infectious anymore."

As of last night, a biologist said it very well could be still infectious. We'll know that soon, and protocol was violated whether it was still dangerous or not. And the whole batch will be destroyed one way or the other, so we've been told.

i just LOVED some guy was reconstituting the 1918 flu, which strain was most deadly to healthy young males (it attacked the healthiest immune systems for some reason). They just haven't been able to make the dreaded bird flu deadly enough, yet.

#7 | Posted by kenx at 2014-07-10 12:57 PM | Reply | Flag:

The 'herd' immunity is alive and well, and will be for centuries, even with smallpox not running around. (Your mother never had to catch smallpox for you to have some natural resistance, but your 'bloodline' sure as hell needed exposure. Having said that, such immunity will go away eventually....).

What? How will herd immunity be around for centuries if people are no longer vaccinated or exposed to the virus?

And if smallpox was re-introduced to the environment, we could have 99% of the country vaccinated in a few weeks, tops.

Link? Where or how would this much be produced? How would it be given an FDA greenlight that fast? Are you thinking it'd be old school in that a doc would dip a scarification needle in excretion from an infected/vaccinated person's lesion and use that as an inoculum?

#8 | Posted by jpw at 2014-07-10 06:28 PM | Reply | Flag:

As of last night, a biologist said it very well could be still infectious.

Of course it could be. My assumption was based on it being stored at room temp for decades. It may have been in a freezer and only there for years. Who knows?

And erring on the side of caution means an assumption that it is still infectious, which is exactly what they're going to do.

We'll know that soon, and protocol was violated whether it was still dangerous or not. And the whole batch will be destroyed one way or the other, so we've been told.

It depends on when it was put there.

It certainly violates modern select agent protocols. I'm not sure about in decades past.

And I assume it would be destroyed as there are already safeguarding samples that are defined. They may not even have an idea as to strain, source, is it a clinical isolate ect.

i just LOVED some guy was reconstituting the 1918 flu

That was years ago and I see noting wrong with it given H1N1 and immunity against it is still present. As we saw in 2009 nature is quite adept at producing viruses that can kick our ass anyway.

They just haven't been able to make the dreaded bird flu deadly enough, yet.

Actually, there were two labs that stirred up quite a bit of controversy by intentionally forcing H5N1 to become transmissible from mammalian host to host for the purposes of determining what changes need to occur for the virus to do that naturally. Both reports were held from publication for months while review boards determined if the information was too dangerous to release. In the end it was ruled that the knowledge was more important than the danger it represented.

#9 | Posted by jpw at 2014-07-10 06:34 PM | Reply | Flag:

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