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The only effective prevention against a biological attack with ricin is avoidance; unfortunately, no antidote or vaccine exists. Currently, investigations are ongoing for possible vaccines and ricin inhibitors. Protective masks have been shown to be effective in preventing toxicity during an aerosol attack.
Although ricin is not the ideal biological warfare agent, it remains a threat, primarily as a food and water contaminant. Ricin is widely available and easily produced. With the increasing number of biological threats, hoaxes, and "how to" Internet resources available, this threat has the potential to become reality. Therefore, being familiar with ricin's characteristics is important.
Ferdinando L Mirarchi, DO
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