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    Ricin, a toxic glycoprotein derived from the castor bean plant, is one of the most potent poisons known in the world. Ricin intoxication is a fatal and uncommon medical condition and recently its use as a potential bioterrorism agent has also been reported. This study aims to identify the main characteristics of diagnosed ricin poisoning cases worldwide in order to raise awareness of this toxin among the population and clinicians. A collection of human case studies of ricin intoxication in the world was produced. The databases Pubmed, Sciencedirect and Google Scholar were used to extract articles from January 1980 to June 2020. Fifty ricin-intoxicated patients worldwide described in the literature have been identified. Most cases were found in Asia (19 cases), Europe (12 cases) and America (15 cases). Intoxication was mostly accidental (37 cases). Intoxication by castor bean is characterized by acute gastroenteritis-like disease as primary manifestations leading to severe fluid and electrolyte imbalance. The mechanism of death was peripheral vascular collapse and progressing multiple organ failure occurring 10h-72h after intoxication. The questioning of patients and family made it possible to retrieve an history of castor seeds or castor oil ingestion Patients received symptomatic treatment consisting mostly to rehydration with intravenous fluids and digestive decontamination performed with activated charcoal and/or gastric lavage within one day after the ingestion, to reduce gastrointestinal absorption of ricin. This decontamination treatment administered early has been very effective. Only six deaths were observed. Currently, no antidote, vaccine, or other specific effective treatment is available for ricin poisoning or prevention. Prompt treatment with supportive care was necessary to limit morbidity and mortality. To date, patient education is essential to prevent this accidental poisoning. Clinicians and health care professionals should have a high level of suspicion when faced with an outbreak of serious respiratory or gastrointestinal illness. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Melissa Abbes, Marc Montana, Christophe Curti, Patrice Vanelle. Ricin poisoning: A review on contamination source, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and reporting of ricin poisoning. Toxicon : official journal of the International Society on Toxinology. 2021 May;195:86-92

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    PMID: 33711365

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