(NaturalNews) Hundreds of additional vials of freeze-dried, exotic pathogens have been discovered at a government laboratory, according to new reports. Abandoned vials labeled "dengue," "influenza," and "Q fever" were among those discovered inside 12 boxes sitting in the corner of a cold storage room at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) facility in Maryland, sparking outrage over the government's poor handling of potentially pandemic diseases.
The Associated Press (AP) says the more than 300 vials are in addition to the six that were announced roughly one week prior at the same federal storage facility -- these six vials were reportedly labeled as "smallpox," and the rest were not disclosed at that time. The discovery of the vials occurred unexpectedly as employees were rummaging through the cold storage unit and came across the boxes, which are believed to have been collected and assembled between 1946 and 1964.
"The reasons why these samples went unnoticed for this long is something we're actively trying to understand," stated U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deputy director for biologics, Dr. Peter Marks, in a recent statement.
The discovery comes amidst controversy over the poor handling of anthrax at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) facility near Atlanta, Georgia. As we recently reported, dozens of CDC employees were potentially exposed to anthrax after the deadly pathogen was accidentally released into certain areas of the CDC campus back in June.
"This is a matter that is currently under review," added Karen Midthun, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, to TheHill. "We are obviously reviewing all of our policies and procedures to determine what corrective actions are necessary."
Following their discovery, the many hundreds of vials were immediately sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for "safekeeping," according to TheHill. During this time, their contents are to be evaluated, Midthun says, a process that could take up to two weeks to complete.
Government handling of deadly pathogens highly disconcerting
Meanwhile, others are questioning how it was even possible for these potentially catastrophic vials to remain unnoticed for roughly 50 years. If nobody knew they were there until now, any malcontent with a violent agenda could have captured and used them to trigger a potentially worldwide pandemic, and the public would have been none the wiser.
"The fact that these materials were not discovered until now is unacceptable," retorted Midthun, when questioned. "However, upon finding these materials our staff did the right thing -- they immediately notified the appropriate authorities who secured the materials and determined there was no exposure."
Of the 327 vials collected, 32 of them, which contained tissue samples and an allegedly non-contagious virus related to smallpox, were immediately destroyed. Several unlabeled vials were shipped to the CDC for testing, while the remaining 279 were handed over to DHS.
At this point, the FDA maintains that nobody has been exposed to the vials' contents. The agency told news outlets that all of the vials were carefully packed and heat-sealed, and that none of them appeared to be leaking, even though they're about half a century old.
"We take this matter very seriously, and we are working to ensure this does not happen again," stated Midthun to reporters during a recent conference call.