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Vial Containing Virus that Causes Hemorrhagic Fever Missing from Texas Lab

Mar 25, 2013 12:21 PM EDT
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A vial containing a rare virus known to cause hemorrhagic fever has been reported missing from the University of Texas Medical Branch, according to a statement from the University.

The vial with a virus called Guanarito, known to cause an infectious disease, was stored at the Galveston National Laboratory on UTMB. During a routine inspection, the vial was discovered to be missing.

Officials have notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the unaccounted vial. The virus isn't likely to cause any outbreak as it is known only to spread via rodents in Venezuela, The Associated Press reported.

UTMB has also said that the vial may not have been stolen as there were no signs of any break-ins at the lab.

"We don't think anything that happened this past week endangers the community. We think this is an error that any one facility is inevitable and we are going to improve to prevent this in the future," Scott Weaver, the laboratory's scientific director, reports chron.com. Officials say that the vial must have been destroyed during routine cleaning operations in the lab. However, the investigation hasn't been closed yet.

Guanarito virus is only found in certain parts of Venezuela and is known to cause hemorrhagic fever in humans. However, the virus can be transmitted by a kind of rodent that's found in Venezuela and not the ones that are native to the U.S.

Fever, headache, body and muscle aches and abdominal pain are common symptoms of infection with the Guanarito virus, according to Livestrong.com.

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