On Thursday March 13th authorities announced that an Officer involved in the investigation of the Las Vegas Ricin incident tested positive for small amounts of Ricinine or Ricidine found in his system. Ricinine is an alkaloid (3-cyano-4-methoxy-N-methyl-2-pyridone) that shares a common plant source with Ricin, and its presence in the system infers Ricin exposure.
However, the alkaloid substance is extracted from the seeds of the castor plant and does not derive directly from Ricin.
KTNV News in Nevada reportedly identified the Officer as Jim Mitchell and he is said to have no symptoms of Ricin poisoning. The Officer was one that arrived on the scene to search a Las Vegas hotel room on Feb. 26th - weeks after it’s occupant - who is believed to be suffering from Ricin exposure, called 911 on Valentines Day. Bergendorff had been transported to a local hospital for respiratory distress. He was reported to have fallen into a coma after arrival and remained so for many weeks although family members have reported differently and have said Bergendorff was merely heavily sedated.
There have been no press reports stating where or when the poison was made. A home and storage unit in Utah along with the room in Las Vegas had been searched and all tested locations tested negative for any traces of Ricin. Officers themselves didn’t find the Ricin vials in the room when they searched the hotel room on Feb. 26th.
This begs the question of how and where Officer Mitchell was exposed to Ricinine and if there really is any link to this case at all. Something to take into consideration at this point is the fact there has been no mention of the three animals that were found in Bergendorff’s hotel room having been exposed to or ill from Ricin or Ricinine. It is not mentioned whether they had even been tested for exposure. These animals had gone unattended for nine days in Bergendorff’s Las Vegas hotel room where castor beans were found as well as the vials of the poison itself. Because animals remain low to the ground where any poison in the air would have settled one must wonder why we have heard nothing about them being tested. Animals are highly susceptible to Ricin poisoning and are routinely used by governments and scientists around the world to study and test the affects of Ricin. It is unclear why there is no reporting on this fact with regard to the animals considering the new reports of the Officer’s alleged exposure.
Another news report states the wife of this officer was "scared to death" when she heard the news that she too must be tested. Why - after a month since possible exposure by the Officer who is showing no ill affects, would the wife be “scared to death”? A simple Google search on Ricin proves she has nothing to worry about.
The likelihood of the Officers’ wife being exposed is extremely slim and even though the possibility warrants testing, the reporting by the press on her being “scared to death” was irresponsible considering they did not clarify to the public that Ricin poisoning is not contagious and further, according to the CDC,
“Person-to-person transmission through casual contact has not been reported and although Ricin may adhere to clothing or be present on surfaces, there is low potential for transmission via contact with contaminated clothing or contaminated surfaces”.
“ People who were not present where the Ricin was found are not likely to have been exposed at levels high enough to negatively affect their health”.