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Last updated at 13:36 BST, Monday, 08 September 2014

Deadly discovery in US labs

Summary

8 September 2014

Six deadly substances, some over a century old, have been discovered in government laboratories in the United States. The deadly microbes were found in a hunt that started after the accidental discovery in July of bottles of smallpox at a research centre near Washington.

Reporter:

Joanna Jolly

A vial

The deadly microbes were stored in vials

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Report

Workers searching the government premises found six different types of microbes classed as being so dangerous they're required to be stored at high-secure facilities.

Instead, they were found in regular laboratories. They included bacteria that cause the plague and nerve toxins that cause botulism. A vial of the highly poisonous toxin ricin was also found, dating from nearly a century ago.

Authorities said although the microbes had not been stored correctly, they had been properly sealed, so posed no danger to staff. They have all been destroyed.

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Vocabulary

premises

buildings and land used by an organisation or business

microbes

small living things that can only be seen with a microscope

facilities

(here) buildings containing equipment used for a particular activity

the plague

a disease, usually deadly, that quickly spreads to lots of people

toxins

poisonous substances

botulism

serious illness caused by eating food that has gone bad

vial

small bottle for keeping medicine or other liquids in

posed

caused (a problem)

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