Parker and Presnyakova discovered, the presence of deadly pathogens is always a risk, no matter how noble the intentions behind keeping them.
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Blast & fire hits major virus lab in Russia, where HIV, Ebola & anthrax strains are stored
Bomb explodes Small Pox virus lab ,sending stores of HIV, Ebola, anthrax strains out into the city through broken glass the windows were all broken sending glass with Smallpox out in the city.
The city was exposed to Smallpox, Ebola, Anthrax and many other deadly infectious diseases, as a possible Bomb went off in a terrorist type attack at the military lab containing Smallpox and anthrax.
Firefighters and rescue services were scrambled on Monday to respond to a fire that broke out in Koltsovo, a scientific hub several kilometers from Novosibirsk. The situation was quickly upgraded from an ordinary emergency to a major incident as the explosion and fire affected Russia’s research center of virology and biotechnology, often referred to as the Vector Institute.
The laboratory is known for having developed vaccines for Ebola and hepatitis, as well as for studying epidemics and general issues surrounding immunology. During the Cold War, it was thought to be part of now-defunct Soviet biological weapons program, meaning that some of the most dangerous strains – including that of smallpox, Ebola, anthrax and certain plagues – are still being kept inside the Institute’s building.
With that in mind, a local branch of the Emergencies Ministry swiftly responded to the call, sending in 13 fire engines and 38 firefighters, who entered the six-story building minutes after arrival.
The fire was located and quickly extinguished on the fourth floor where some “construction works” were being carried out.
Reports by local authorities were conspicuously light on detail, with various sources suggesting it was a gas blast that had triggered a fire at the construction site. One construction worker suffered burns to his legs and was taken to hospital for trauma care.
The mayor of Koltsovo, for his part, assured the public that there was no release of hazardous substances in the area. Still, the cause of the blast remains unknown and an investigation has been launched.
An explosion at a Russian research lab housing lethal viruses such as Ebola and smallpox was reportedly so severe that it blew out windows on Monday.
A gas canister was to blame for the blaze at the Vektor center in Koltsovo, Siberia, according to a statement. At least one person suffered severe burns and is in critical care. According to Vector, the explosion occurred during repairs in a sanitary inspection room on the fifth floor of the six-floor building and no biological materials were being worked on.
The Vektor center was, during the Cold War, one of the Soviet Union’s biological weapons research facilities. Today, the facility studies the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of pathogens. At the time of the fire, Vektor still housed the world’s largest collection of viruses, including samples of Ebola and smallpox.
Smallpox killed its final victim in 1978 when medical photographer Janet Parker was infected in a laboratory studying smallpox in Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
The Vektor center itself has a history with deadly accidents. In 2004, Vektor researcher Antonia Presnyakova died after she accidentally injected herself with Ebola while conducting research.
Vektor has one of the world’s largest collections of viruses, including Ebola, according to Interfax. Reports say its collection includes samples of smallpox, bird flu and different strains of hepatitis.
In May 2004 a scientist working in a Vektor lab at Koltsovo died after accidentally jabbing her left hand with a syringe containing Ebola.
Antonina Presnyakova was an experienced researcher, who was doing tests on guinea pigs at the time, Russia’s Kommersant daily reported.
She was wearing the normal protective clothing, including rubber gloves, and got immediate medical attention, but the dose still killed her two weeks later. Four officials were disciplined at Vektor over the accident.
Kommersant described the facility as a “military installation”, surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and armed guards in watchtowers.
No matter how secure and safe we think these pathogens are, they have a way of eluding our attempts to control them. In 2014, for example, federal scientists discovered six vials of freeze dried smallpox stored in a former National Institute of Health facility in Bethesda, Maryland.