The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that smallpox has been eradicated in the U.S. since the last known case in 1949, with the last natural case in the world in Somalia in 1977. This serious, contagious and sometimes fatal disease has no specific treatment, but the vaccine wiped out the disease. Unfortunately, some sources of smallpox may still exist, unbeknownst to public health officials.
Fox News reports that government workers were cleaning out a storage room when they found an unexpected surprise. Inside a cardboard box were six vials of smallpox, decades old. Glass vials of the frozen virus were sealed with melted glass. It is unlikely that the virus is still alive because it was not kept cold over the years.
However, it is still concerning that the world health authorities thought the only samples were locked away in highly secured facilities in Atlanta, GA and in Russia. This is reportedly the first time that smallpox not already accounted for has been found. The smallpox virus samples were found in a building at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. That building has been used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1972, according to the CDC.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smallpox was one of the most devastating diseases known to mankind. Since the last naturally occurring case in 1977, the only cases of smallpox have been the result of a laboratory accident in England in 1978.