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Deadly Virus Disappears From UTMB Lab

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A vial containing a potentially deadly virus has gone missing from a secure biomedical research facility at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Galveston National laboratory.  Officials made the announcement Saturday afternoon, stressing that there was no reason to believe there is a threat to the public.

The University of Texas Medical Branch says there is no sign of a break in, and no indication of wrongdoing.  Lab officials suspect the missing vial containing the Guanarito virus was destroyed during the lab’s cleaning process but an investigation continues.

The virus, which can cause hemorrhagic fever, is native to Venezuela, and is transmitted only through contact with Venezuelan rats.  It is not believed to be able to survive in U.S. rodents or to be transmitted person-to-person.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was notified immediately after the vial was discovered missing last Wednesday.

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