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Is the use of the indefinite article below possible in this context?

In the out-of-court settlement, the drug makers virtually admitted that they were responsible for the spread of a fatal disease.

The above sentence is in a certain book for English learning.

I thought "a fatal disease" should be "the fatal disease," since the disease should be clearly identified.

Or I wonder if there is any possible use of a here I do not know?

  • いらっしゃいませ. I don't necessarily think the disease should be identified and its identity might not be very important in the context, nor is known to the public. The main cause of the settlement is the spread and the drug makers are responsible for the spread. I think a fatal disease is just an additional information to modify the spread. – user140086 Dec 17 '15 at 8:07
  • The usage if fine. It's basically a general statement about what happened. The point is that a fatal disease was spread because of their actions. It's not a statement about the specific disease itself. – ralph.m Dec 17 '15 at 8:11
  • You can use either type of article. It's similar to "The drunk driver was accused of causing an accident" versus "The drunk driver was accused of causing the accident". They're both grammatical, but there are slight differences in emphasis. – Barmar Dec 21 '15 at 19:51

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