Ricin on campus? This ain't good

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A substance discovered by a student in a University of Texas dormitory has tested positive for ricin, a potentially deadly poison, officials said.

The chunky powder was found at the Moore-Hill dormitory Thursday and reported to university police, officials said. Tests for ricin came back positive Friday. Officials don’t know where it came from, said campus police spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon.

“We were very concerned as soon as we heard about the positive testing late this evening,” Dr. Theresa Spalding of UT Health Services 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.

Some students and staff were potentially exposed, according to a university statement, but have not shown any symptoms. Symptoms can include anything from difficulty breathing, fever, cough, nausea and sweating to severe vomiting and dehydration.

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