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Symptoms and Signs of Ricin Poisoning Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Antidote

Doctor's Notes on Ricin Poisoning Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Antidote

Ricin is a type of naturally occurring poison that causes disease when the ricin toxin is inhaled, ingested, or injected. Ricin is a toxin that comes from the beans of the castor plant (Ricinus communis), and is part of the waste material called "white mash" left over from processing castor beans into castor oil. A small amount of this poison can be lethal and could be used as an agent of biological warfare or as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).

Symptoms of ricin poisoning usually begin within 4-6 hours of being exposed to the toxin and depend upon the amount of the toxin and the method of exposure, and may include fever, vomiting, nausea, severe cough, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dehydration, and flu-like symptoms. Death can occur between 36 and 72 hours of exposure.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.