On November 28, 2017, first responders were called to Wake Robin, a retirement community located in Shelburne, VT to investigate a report of a possible Ricin exposure. During their initial investigation, a substance field tested positive for the toxic poison Ricin. Confirmatory testing at the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory completed early this morning was also positive for Ricin toxin.
At this time no one from the public is in danger. Symptoms of Ricin poisoning develop rapidly after exposure. No individuals have been identified as being exposed, nor are expected, based on the last possible date of exposure on Sunday, November 26. All areas potentially exposed by this substance have been evacuated and secured by law enforcement.
This incident is considered to be isolated and is currently being investigated by the FBI. No further information regarding the ongoing investigation is available at this time.
The following information about Ricin has been distributed by 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).