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A letter addressed to Republican Senator Roger Wicker and laced with ricin was intercepted by a Washington DC mail facility.

The letter was tested in a Maryland laboratory after field tests indicated the presence of the deadly, biological agent ricin. The letter was postmarked Memphis, Tennessee.

Senator Wicker responded to the potentially lethal situation:

“This matter is part of an ongoing investigation by the United States Capitol Police and FBI. I want to thank our law enforcement officials for their hard work and diligence in keeping those of us who work in the Capitol complex safe. Gayle and I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers.” 

Ricin (rye-sin) is a chemical poison present in castor beans. Within a few hours of inhaling significant amounts of ricin (the amount of ricin that would fit on the head of a pin could be enough to kill an adult), the likely symptoms would be respiratory distress, fever, cough, nausea, and tightness in the chest.

Heavy sweating may follow, as well as fluid building up in the lungs. This would make breathing even more difficult, and the skin might turn blue. Finally, low blood pressure and respiratory failure may occur, leading to death. Death from ricin poisoning could take place within 36 to 72 hours of exposure.

Both the FBI and the Capitol Police are investigating.



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