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RICIN DETECTED IN LETTERS TO OFFICIALS

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Sen. Wicker, Barack Obama Intended Recipients
By Harold Hutchison

At least two letters tainted with ricin have been intercepted before they could reach officials. The apparent targets of these letters were Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Barack Obama.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the ricin-laced letters were detected at off-site screening facilities in Maryland. Ricin is a bio-toxin that was most famously used by the KGB to assassinate Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov in London in 1978.

Ricin can be inhaled or ingested. Symptoms of poisoning occur 4-8 hours from entering the human body and include fever, vomiting, stomach pain, and a high white blood cell count. If inhaled, it can cause coughing, followed by respiratory distress and death.

In 2004, a ricin-laced letter was sent to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN).

CDC Fact Sheet:
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/ricin/facts.asp

CDC Question and Answer Sheet:
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/ricin/qa.asp