Police: Substance found at retirement community is ricin poison, FBI investigating

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On Tuesday, Nov. 28, first responders were called to the Wake Robin retirement community Shelburne, for a possible exposure to the poison ricin. The substance did test positive in the field, results that were later confirmed in a test by the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory completed early this morning.

According to a Vermont State Police press release, the incident is considered isolated and is being investigated by the FBI. The release also said that there is no danger to the public and that no one has developed symptoms of ricin poisoning, which come on rapidly after exposure. All areas that could have been exposed to this substance have been evacuated and secured by law enforcement, according to police.

Police say no other information is available at this time but provided information on ricin from the Vermont Department of Health:

  • What is ricin?  Ricin is an extremely toxic poison found naturally in castor beans that can be treated to form a powder that can be inhaled or ingested.
  • What are the symptoms of ricin exposure? Initial symptoms of ricin poisoning are most likely to occur within four to 10 hours if the ricin was inhaled or swallowed. Symptoms of ricin poisoning depend on whether ricin was inhaled or swallowed, and the dose received.
  • Symptoms of Inhalation Exposure: Respiratory distress (difficulty breathing), fever, cough, nausea, tightness in the chest, and heavy sweating. Symptoms may occur as early as four to eight hours, and as late as 24 hours after exposure. Symptoms are then likely to progress to include problems such as worsening respiratory distress, pulmonary edema (fluid within the lungs), and eventually respiratory failure.
  • Symptoms of Ingestion Exposure: Vomiting, diarrhea that may become bloody). Other signs may include hallucinations, seizures, and blood in the urine. Following ingestion of ricin, initial symptoms typically occur in less than 10 hours.
  • Report suspect cases of ricin poisoning immediately to the Vermont Department of Health by calling 802-863-7240 (available 24/7).
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About the Author: This item was edited from one or more press releases submitted to The Chester Telegraph.

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