OK, this sounds worse than it is: A vial containing a potentially deadly virus has gone missing from a Texas laboratory. But you really shouldn't freak out because everything is going to be fine and it won't affect you, unless you have some very strange pets.
CBS News reports University of Texas Medical Branch officials discovered the missing vial containing less than a teaspoon of Guanarito virus during a routine inspection last week. The university is supposed to have five vials of Guanarito virus, but one is currently missing. Which sounds like the beginning of a Jame Bond movie, especially since the virus has been prioritized for research by the Centers for Disease Control for research because of its potential bioterrorism risk. But, seriously, there's nothing to worry about.
UTMB scientific director Scott Weaver promised the Houston Chronicle there's nothing to worry about. "The only way it could pose a risk is if it were stolen and that's unlikely," Weaver told the Chronicle. Weaver contends the vial was likely destroyed by accident during a routine cleaning process. The research facility found there hasn't been a breach of security recently, and the team behind the studies don't suspect anything fishy to be afoot.
And, anyway, there's no reason you should even be able to contract the Guanarito virus. Unless you own Venezuelan rats, but why would you? The virus is native to Venezuela and can only be transmitted through rats native to the area where it was originally found. It can't be translated person-to-person. Heck, scientists even don't think American rats can ever carry the disease. Unless you own Venezuelan rats — and we can't imagine a reason you would own any Venezuelan rats — there's really nothing to worry about.
So provided the University of Texas is right and the vial wasn't stolen by some international criminal organization, we should all just relax.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.