Samples of a potentially lethal flu strain sent to Lebanon and Mexico did not reach the respective laboratories, the World Health Organization says. The WHO said it was trying to trace the samples, which were sent by a US testing organisation.
The samples are of Asian flu, which killed between one and four million people in 1957 but disappeared by 1968. More than 3,700 laboratories in 18 countries received the testing kits and have been racing to destroy the virus.
The WHO says the virus could “easily cause an influenza epidemic” if not handled properly.
But the man who co-ordinates the WHO global influenza programme, Klaus Stohr, told the BBC News website that the one laboratory in Lebanon that was supposed to have been sent the kits had not received any. And one out of four laboratories in Mexico had not had any consignment either.
Has Federal Express or DHL – that’s how these samples were shipped – had any workers out sick with the flu within the last eight weeks?