Earlier this month, on July 1st, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) scientists uncovered the smallpox virus in vials. The virus, marked as “variola”, was contained in an FDA laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland.
Upon discovering the vial, the NIH got in touch with the Division of Secret Agents and Toxins or DSAT. This division, through the Centers for Disease Control, manages up to 57 toxic substances such as those that cause both smallpox and the bubonic plague according to the CDC. DSAT keeps these substances contained so that no one can come into contact with them.
Regarding the smallpox vial, no one at the Bethesda facility came into contact with the virus, and it did not leave the building. Therefore, there’s no risk of the virus spreading to others.
After the NIH contacted the DSAT, the groups reached a decision to move the smallpox vial where it would be better stored. On Monday, July 7th, the vial traveled from Bethesda to Atlanta, Georgia, where it currently resides in a CDC facility.
At the CDC facility, scientists performed tests on the vial, discovering that it did indeed contain DNA for variola. The scientists will continue performing tests on the vial to track how the virus could spread. The CDC facility then plans on safely disposing of the vial so that the virus cannot spread further.