Vials labeled 'smallpox' found in lab near Philadelphia

A bottle of smallpox vaccine is held by a doctor at CDC headquarters in Atlanta in 2003. (Tami Chappell/Reuters)

15 Vials - including five alarmingly labeled as 'smallpox' - that were incidentally discovered by a laboratory worker while cleaning out a freezer in a facility that conducts vaccine research in Pennsylvania Tuesday night, reported by Yahoo News.

Five of the vials were labeled as “smallpox” and 10 were labeled as “vaccinia.

Smallpox was eradicated in 1980 with a successful mass vaccination campaign after it killed an estimated 300 million people in the 20th century alone.

Smallpox, a disease caused by the variola virus, is considered so deadly that only two labs in the world are authorized to store samples of the virus, including one in Russia and the other at the CDC in Atlanta. 

The discovery of the vials prompted a lockdown of the facility, which has since been lifted. The FBI and CDC launched investigations, which remain ongoing.

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