Vial containing rare virus goes missing

March 24, 2013 at 4:00 PM

GALVESTON, Texas, March 24 (UPI) -- A vial containing a rare Venezuelan virus has gone missing from a Texas biotech laboratory, the laboratory's president said.

The vial was noted missing during a routine inventory, Dr. David L. Callender, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said. The virus, guanarito, is only found naturally in a small section of Venezuela and because it is not known to transmit between humans it poses "no appreciable public health risk," Callender said.

It's believed the vial was mistakenly destroyed during routine maintenance and foul play is not suspected, The Houston Chronicle said Sunday.

Guanarito is carried by rodents native to Venezuela and can cause hemorrhagic fever if contracted by humans. Rodents native to North America cannot carry the virus, the lab said.

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