Laboratory testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now shows that recently discovered bowls marked “smallpox” contain vaccinia, the virus used in the smallpox vaccine. There is no evidence that the bowls contain variola virus, the cause of the fungus. The CDC has close contact with state and local health officials, law enforcement, and the World Health Organization regarding these findings.
On November 15, 2021, the U.S. Government announced the report of a small number of unpacked, frozen bowls labeled “smallpox” discovered by a laboratory worker while cleaning a freezer in a facility that conducts vaccine research in Pennsylvania.
The freezer facility was immediately secured and staff followed standard protocols for notifying the CDC of a potential discovery. The bowls were shipped safely to the CDC for testing on Nov. 18 to determine what their contents were. No one was exposed inside the bowls.