13 Stories

Could an 1890s Smallpox Outbreak Come Back to Haunt Us?

Researchers fear melting permafrost will revive the virus

(Newser) - A video of scientists in hazmat suits incinerating animal carcasses in Siberia looks straight out of a sci-fi movie about a rogue virus, notes Vice News . The scariest part? Such a sight might become more familiar. The video arose because melting permafrost caused a long-frozen reindeer carcass to thaw and... More »

Amherst Set to Dump 'Racist' Mascot

Lord Jeff advocated giving smallpox to Native Americans

(Newser) - A British lord now best known for advocating biological warfare may be America's most endangered mascot. At an informal vote at Amherst College on Monday night, faculty voted unanimously in favor of dumping the Massachusetts institution's unofficial "Lord Jeff" mascot, reports the New York Times . The mascot... More »

CDC Shuts 2 Labs After Another Dangerous Gaffe

New one involves dangerous strain of bird flu

(Newser) - Another day, another report of a potentially deadly lab mistake by the CDC. The latest one, involving bird flu, has prompted CDC chief Tom Frieden to shut down two research labs temporarily and to halt the shipment of risky germs, reports AP . The bird flu mistake actually happened in May... More »

Illegal Smallpox Turns Up in Maryland Lab

It may have been there since the 1950s

(Newser) - Smallpox is a terrifying pathogen that by international agreement can be studied only at two labs in the world, one in the US and one in Russia. So it's just a wee bit disconcerting that another lab in Maryland just realized it's had some lying around, apparently for... More »

'End of the World' Plague Victims Found in Egypt

Likely measles or smallpox, it struck one writer as apocalyptic

(Newser) - Saint Cyprian described it in the third century AD as a plague that signaled the end of the world—and archaeologists have now uncovered its remnants in Egypt. An Italian team has published the results of its 15 years of research in ancient Thebes (today, Luxor), where a funerary complex... More »

New Smallpox-Like Virus Discovered

Two herdsmen in country of Georgia infected, says CDC

(Newser) - The virus is so newly discovered that it hasn't yet been named, and what's known about it is scant. But the CDC today revealed that the virus, which has saddled two herdsmen in the country of Georgia with blisters on their arms and hands, is what NPR calls... More »

Giant Virus Wakes After 30K Years in Siberia

It's still infectious after millennia in permafrost

(Newser) - The biggest virus ever discovered is awake—and infectious—after a 30,000-year nap buried deep in Siberian permafrost. Pithovirus sibericum, a member of a recently discovered class of giant viruses, was found 100 feet deep in the frozen ground. It only infects amoebas, but the researchers who uncovered it... More »

US Snaps Up Huge Stockpile of Smallpox Drug

Experts question need for $463M anti-bioterror buy

(Newser) - More than 30 years after the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated, the federal government has spent $463 million on enough medicine to treat two million cases. The only stocks of the smallpox virus known to still exist are in heavily guarded labs in Atlanta and Moscow, but experts won'... More »

Feds' $433M Smallpox Drug Contract a Controversial One

White House overrode experts, pushed for deal

(Newser) - Smallpox was virtually eliminated 33 years ago and already has a cheap, effective vaccine that exists in large quantities. So why is the Obama administration pushing so hard to spend $433 million on an expensive and experimental smallpox drug that might not be needed and might not work? Perhaps it'... More »

UN Won't Destroy Last Smallpox Samples —for Now

Health agency delays decision until 2014

(Newser) - Health ministers from around the world agreed today to put off setting a deadline to destroy the last known stockpiles of the smallpox virus for three more years, rejecting a US plan that had called for a five-year delay. After two days of heated debate, the 193-nation World Health Assembly... More »

WHO Panel: Yeah, OK, Keep Your Smallpox

Executive board backs Russian, US proposal to keep their stashes

(Newser) - The US and Russia can and should keep their smallpox supplies , the World Health Organization’s executive board concluded yesterday. The WHO has been asked to consider setting a deadline for destroying the virus, the Wall Street Journal explains. But at a meeting in Geneva yesterday, the board agreed with... More »

US, Russia Fighting to Keep Smallpox

Virus samples needed to guard against bioterrorism, US argues

(Newser) - Smallpox was once one of the deadliest diseases ever known, but now only the US and Russia stand between it and utter annihilation. The two countries have the last known stocks of the virus, which was eradicated by vaccination more than 30 years ago, and they're resisting efforts to set... More »

Smallpox Vaccine Slows HIV

Study raises hope for a new tool against pandemic

(Newser) - People exposed with the smallpox vaccine may gain a measure of protection against the HIV virus. Researchers from George Washington University exposed white blood cells taken from vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals and exposed them to HIV. In the smallpox-vaccinated cells, HIV replicated itself significantly slower than in those from non-vaccinated... More »

13 Stories