NIH Finds Deadly Toxins and Diseases in American Government Labs

Forgotten smallpox samples found in July leads to search of other government labs, finding more samples of other deadly pathogens.

Lab Manager

Structure of ricin.AzaToth, Wikimedia CommonsAccording to reports in the mainstream news, the National Institutes of Health has found a bottle of ricin, along with samples of pathogens causing melioidosis, tularemia, plague, and botulism. The container of ricin was almost a century old while some of the other samples were in storage for over six decades, according to articles on and All of the samples had been forgotten about as time passed. 

The findings, announced Sept. 5, resulted from an NIH search of government labs for hazardous materials that had been incorrectly stored. That search came about after stored vials of smallpox from the 1950s that had also been forgotten about were discovered in an NIH campus lab in July. The latest samples were uncovered between July and August. 

“The finding of these agents and toxins highlights the need for constant vigilance in monitoring laboratory materials in compliance with federal regulations on biosafety,” NIH director Francis Collins said in an email to his fellow employees Sept. 5, as quoted by 

-          With files from and