Ricin To The Occasion
Dr. Barry Goodman runs a Concierge Medical practice in Albuquerque as part of his duties running the clinic, he also finds himself as Southwestern US Real Estate Investment Manager for Madrigal Electromotive.
We're just trying out this communication method with our clients around the globe, I'm sure there's a few kinks to work out. So stick with us and our team will try to keep you informed on various topics over time.
It started out a while back. Corporate drops me an e-mail. Start up this “Blog” thing for public relations. The gal says she needs an article about ricin. What the heck would our clients want to know about ricin? She said it was currently of interest Europe, they would take care of the translation, yadda, yadda, yadda.
That was a while back, frankly, I dropped the ball. Not that I wasn't doing double duty anyhow. I completed a purchase of some rental housing. Really a sad story. This poor fellow just got multiple kicks in the groin. I happen to meet while waiting for an after hours business meeting at a local bar. I struck up a conversation with this shaken fellow. Turns out his daughter recently died from a drug overdose, what a nightmare right there. It placed him into such a tailspin, he lost it at work and got fired.
This was a quiet fellow, showing off a picture of his late daughter. He was in such pain. I couldn't quite figure out what happened, but apparently a quantum disaster at work. He explained his need to unload some property. I looked at his face, deep into his tortured soul, and realized, this was a cue. I'm not sure ethically if it was the right thing to do, negotiating with a fellow in such a state of mind, but he experienced great relief when freed of this burden. The property now resides in the Madrigal Electromotive inventory.
Sorry, back to ricin. A few years back, even us docs in the field wouldn't really think much about ricin. I'm sure it popped up in some lecture or another, but from a practical matter, what difference did it make? A fellow comes in with fluids coming out of both ends the first thought isn't going to be “hmmm, this could be ricin.” No, it's stomach flu until there's a reason for it not to be. Well that was before 9/11. Suddenly there's a great interest in weapons of mass destruction. Ton's of government sponsored courses on CBRNE weapons (Chemical, Biological, Radiation, Nuclear, and Explosive). Ricin makes prime time.
Now for pure terror, nothing beats a good old A-bomb. A big boom, lot's of sudden dead and a lot of collateral damage. But it's expensive, highly technical and trackable. Not the most desirable for a terrorist on a shoestring. Now take ricin. It's made from castor plant beans. They can grow in the poppy fields. Easily available, easily produced and highly toxic. Three desirable features for a terrorist on a budget. Now it's not going to have mega wide area dispersal, by let's say a Cessna It's simpler and cheaper to place into the food supply Perhaps a mole working at a fast food place or a food distribution center. Suddenly lots of sick folks overrunning an already bursting emergency medical system.
While the poison doesn't self multiply such as anthrax or plague, this reduces the risk in handling to the product by the less trained front line troops. Also decreases the risk of blow back to the manufacturers by contaminated co-conspirators.
Low skills to make, an undergraduate chemistry major has the skill to make it. Delivery? Take your pick of routes: Inhale it, eat it or have it injected all with great affect. The final product delivers a one-two punch. The first punch opens the cell up while the two punch enters and stops the cell's function. Dead cell. Not a quick instant death like you see in the movies. A slower miserable death over time depending on the dose and route.
If it goes through the GI track, a bit over 3 gm is all that's needed. The weight of a dime. Diarrhea, GI bleed, death to the kidney, liver and spleen and the whole system collapses within days. Breathing in that amount and it's mega pneumonia. Lungs start swelling with fluids, cough, respiratory failure all within a couple of days. Injected, even a smaller amount can cause all this damage on all the systems. No matter how, it's. a rather nasty way to go.
When the poor victim makes it to the ED, there's not going to be a sign on him “POISONED BY RICIN.” No way, so it's going to be play it as it lays medicine. Fluids for the poops, breathing treatment for the lungs, and try to get a handle on things. Even if there was the big sign it wouldn't change much There's no antidote. As systems shut down, all the medical team can do is try to prop things up until the body heals itself. The only clue this could be more then a pneumonia, food poisoning or stomach flu is if multiple folks show up with the same symptoms from the same location. Still could be food poisoning, but at least the source can start to be hunted down. No matter what the, victim is in much hurt without aggressive treatment and good luck.
The terrorist generates fear, It might take out opponents depending on how surgical the strike.. Once it's “announced” that ricin is the culprit fear of the food and water supply develops, again overwhelming local resources. But the even more worrisome danger: What if some highly skilled chemist starts figuring out how to make this stuff in bulk with an efficient delivery system. All bets are off.