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February 25, 2006

Ricin Poisons UT Dorm

The toxin was hidden in... roll of quarters?

Two female students from Moore-Hill dormitory were still being treated late Friday for Ricin exposure after coming into contact with the toxin Thursday afternoon, law enforcement and UT officials said.


According to authorities, no other students are exhibiting symptoms of exposure to Ricin, a protein-inhibitor that can lead to death or serious injury, which has been used as a biological warfare agent. Authorities would not release the names of the girls involved.


The toxin was first discovered around 2:30 p.m. Thursday when one of the students who received treatment discovered a white powder after opening a roll of quarters from a non-local bank to do laundry on the first floor, Spalding said. The quarters had been in her dorm room on the second floor for several months, Spalding said. The powder fell out on the student's hands, which she washed immediately before reporting the incident to the UT Police Department, Spalding said.

This is now obligatory:

"There is no threat coming from this," said Theresa Spalding, associate director of Student Health Services. "The authorities do not believe there is any type of terroristic plot against the University of Texas."

Perhaps they just mean this was a random poisoning, and that no one intended to terrorize UT specifically. I'm not sure if there's an innocent way that ricin finds itself into a roll of quarters.

Thanks to Generation Why?, with lots of pictures of the evacuation/Hazmat squads in action.

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posted by Ace at 12:32 PM

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