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Published On: Mon, Mar 25th, 2013

UTMB President responds to missing Guanarito virus vial, Dr. Marc Siegel says this ‘requires a serious investigation’

A University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas laboratory reported a missing vial of the animal pathogen, Guanarito virus during a routine inspection last week.

On Saturday, UTMB President Dr. David L. Callender responded to the “mishap”?:

During a routine internal inspection conducted on March 20 and 21, 2013, UTMB could not account for one vial of a select agent. The vial, containing less than a quarter of a teaspoon of material, had been stored in a locked freezer within a secure laboratory designed and approved to handle this kind of biological material safely (Biosafety Level 4).

Imge/CDC

Imge/CDC

The virus in the vial is called Guanarito; it is not known to be transmitted from person-to-person and therefore poses no appreciable public health risk. It is native only to Venezuela and can cause hemorrhagic fever. In the limited area of Venezuela where the virus is found, it is transmitted only by rodents native to the area and is not believed to be capable of surviving naturally in rodents in the United States.

This is the first time that any vial containing a select agent has been unaccounted for at UTMB. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was notified immediately, and UTMB simultaneously began a rigorous process to ensure the safety of its researchers, employees and the community. UTMB has confirmed that there was no breach in the facility’s security and there is no indication that any wrongdoing is involved. The investigation continues, but at this time, it is likely, but not confirmed, that the vial was destroyed during normal laboratory sterilization practices. As per our normal procedures, we have also notified our Community Liaison Committee, which serves as an independent communication and oversight group for UTMB’s high-containment research programs.

Dr. Marc Siegel from Fox News reiterated Dr. Callender’s statement that the suspect virus won’t even infect rats here in the US. Siegel goes on to say that this is not going to be “Contagion”.

Then host Bill Hemmer asks a most important question–“How does a vial go missing, how is that possible?”

Siegel goes on to compare it to the anthrax situation in 2001 and says this requires a “serious investigation”.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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