Like I didn’t have enough to worry about today.
The Galveston National Laboratory lost one of five vials containing a deadly Venezuelan virus, according to the University of Texas Medical Branch, which owns the $174 million facility designed with the strictest security measures to hold the deadliest viruses in the country.
Like Ebola, the missing Guanarito virus causes hemorrhagic fever, an illness named for “bleeding under the skin, in internal organs or from body orifices like the mouth, eyes, or ears,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hey, mistakes happen. Heck, I once spent fifteen minutes walking around my house looking for my glasses, only to have my then-8-year-old son point out I was wearing them.
But I still gotta ask: isn’t this the sort of thing where there are, oh I don’t know, protocols for handling ’em? What, did someone sign out the virus for their kid’s “show-and-tell” that morning? Or perhaps they were doing some field research for an ‘Andromeda Strain‘ sequel?
The reasonable possibilities are endless. Why, someone could’ve accidentally lumped it in with a bunch of plastic bottles, on their way to the recycling center. Or mislabeled it “Eye Drops”.
Of course, the research facility and the folks at the Center for Disease Control have informed us that I’m completely overreacting, as it is very “unlikely” that the biological terror agent was stolen by actual biological terrorists or anything, ’cause THAT would just be totally crazy:
(Detroit Free Press) — Because there is no treatment or vaccine against the virus and it can infect by being inhaled, scientists work with it only when wearing spacesuit-like gear and in Biosafety Level 4 labs, which have the highest safety and security requirements to prevent the release of infectious agents.
Weaver said the most likely explanation for the missing vial is that it became stuck to a researcher’s glove and dropped unnoticed to the lab’s floor and rolled under equipment, where it was later swept up and incinerated with other lab waste.
The frozen vials, which are stored at minus-80 degrees centigrade, “stick to about anything … especially a gloved hand,” he said. The noise of the airflow system inside the scientist’s spacesuit — coupled with a limited field of vision — would make it difficult to hear or see the vial drop, Weaver said.
See? Nothing to worry your little head over…
… catching the next flight might not be such a bad idea.