ATLANTA (July 8, 2014) Workers who were cleaning a storage room last week at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland made a startling discovery; decades-old vials of smallpox forgotten in a cardboard box.
The only other known smallpox samples are in super-secure labs in the U.S. and Russia.
Officials say the six vials of freeze-dried virus were sealed and pose no immediate danger.
The virus usually has to be kept cold to remain alive and dangerous and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions says these were stored at room temperature.
Further tests will determine if the samples are dead.
The vials may have been stored at the center since the 1950s.
One of the most deadly diseases in history, smallpox was declared eradicated in the 1980s.