French lab shut after losing SARS virus samples

French medical authorities have ordered a prestigious laboratory to suspend its activities after it lost more than 2,000 test tubes containing the SARS respiratory virus.

The Pasteur Institute reported the tubes missing last month from one of its labs, but insisted in a statement that the tubes do not pose any infection risk. The institute asked the ANSM medical safety agency to carry out inspections at the lab.

ANSM chief inspector Gaetan Rudant said Tuesday that its inspectors did not find the tubes but did find "dysfunction" in the way the lab tracked its material.

The ANSM ordered the lab's activities suspended and a "tube-by-tube" inventory of all material at the Pasteur Institute.

SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, infected about 8,000 people in 2003, killing nearly 800.

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