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Curbs On Pathogens Pose Dilemma For Scientists

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The fate of smallpox is once again on the agenda of the World Health Organization, which is considering whether to destroy the last known samples of the deadly virus, currently held in labs in the U. S. and Russia.

Some countries want to get rid of the smallpox strains so they can't be used as a weapon or get accidentally released. The U.S. government wants to keep them, saying they are still needed to develop new therapies and vaccines.

As this debate rages, however, experts say that valuable specimens of less famous pathogens are quietly being destroyed by researchers who fear running afoul of legal restrictions on who can possess and work with these other microbes.
 
 

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