Smallpox was a serious disease that spread throughout the country years ago. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants to make sure it doesn't happen again. The Virginia Historical Society in Richmond put together an exhibit of "bizarre bits" that were added to the society's collection since its founding in 1831. Included were Confederate president Jefferson Davis's cigar, a wreath made of human hair, and a letter, handwritten and dated 1876, with what appeared to be a smallpox scab pinned inside.
A concerned government scientist in Maryland notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency dispatched two CDC representatives to Richmond. They donned disposable surgical gowns and gloves, lifted the scab from a display case, sealed it in bio-bags inside a red cooler and whisked it back to a high-security lab deep within the CDC's Atlanta headquarters.
You can read more about the medical scare in the Wall Street Journal at http://goo.gl/uRzQm.
Who knew that a historical society's exhibit of 134-year-old items could attract such attention? It seems that nobody knows how much smallpox virus may be lurking in archives or in cemeteries since the deadly disease was declared eradicated in 1980.
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