The Food and Drug Administration said that a federal employee who found six vials of the deadly smallpox virus in a cardboard box in a storage room at a Maryland lab also found hundreds of vials of other diseases.
The samples included influenza, rickettsia (which can cause the lethal Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) and dengue.
FDA official said Wednesday the collection of 327 vials of the various diseases was found at the same time as the smallpox virus vials announced last week.
Testing at the CDC discovered the smallpox viruses in the vial were alive and infectious.
“The fact that these materials were not discovered until now is unacceptable,” said Karen Midthun, of FDA’s director for biologics. “However, upon finding these materials our staff did the right thing – they immediately notified the appropriate authorities who secured the materials and determined there was no exposure.”
The FDA said 32 vials of tissue samples and non-contagious virus were destroyed at the laboratory and the remaining 279 samples were sent to the Department of Homeland Security for storage.