Ricin found in U. Texas dorm
A substance found by a University of Texas student at a dorm has tested positive for ricin, a potentially deadly poison, officials said.

Two students were receiving medical attention for potential exposure, although neither has exhibited symptoms, said Dr. Theresa Spalding of UT Student Health Services.

The chunky powder was found by one of them at the Moore-Hill dormitory Thursday afternoon and reported to university police. Preliminary tests came back positive for ricin Friday.

School officials said they haven't determined where the ricin came from, UT police spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said.

The powder fell on the student's hands from a roll of quarters she unwrapped to use for laundry. The student's roommate is the other person who was receiving treatment; the quarters had been in their dorm room for several months, Spalding said.

The dorm was sanitized and inspected, and students were cleared to return early Saturday, the university said.

Health officials met with students and staff who were potentially exposed, but so far, none have shown any symptoms, the university said in a statement. Symptoms can include anything from difficulty breathing, fever, cough, nausea and sweating to severe vomiting and dehydration.

"We were very concerned as soon as we heard about the positive testing late this evening," Spalding said Friday.

Ricin is extracted from castor beans and can be added to food or water, injected or sprayed as an aerosol. It can be in the form of a powder, mist, pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.

Posted by: lotp 2006-02-25