• Found in castor beans from the plant Ricinus communis
    • A residual product of the production of castor oil (if properly prepared, does not contain the toxin)
  • Exposure can be parenteral, inhaled, or ingested

Clinical Features

  • First symptoms occur 3-12 hours after exposure
  • Acute lung injury
    • Fever, cough, shortness of breath, and nausea
  • Death 36-48 hours after exposure
    • Alveolar flooding, fibropurulent pneumonia, and necrotizing tracheitis

Differential Diagnosis

Pulmonary Edema Types

Pulmonary capillary wedge pressure <18 mmHg differentiates noncardiogenic from cardiogenic pulmonary edema[1]

Bioterrorism Agents[2]

Category A

Category B

  • Ricin
  • Brucellosis
  • Epsilon toxin
  • Psittacosis
  • Q Fever
  • Staph enterotoxin B
  • Typhus
  • Glanders
  • Melioidosis
  • Food safety threats
  • Water safety threats
  • Viral encephalitis

Category C


  • Chest x-ray = bilateral infiltrates (pulmonary edema)
  • Multi-organ failure occurred with a prominently elevated white blood cell count


  • Supportive


  • Admit

See Also

External Links


  1. Clark SB, Soos MP. Noncardiogenic Pulmonary Edema. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; October 1, 2020.
  2. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/biodefenserelated/biodefense/pages/cata.aspx Accessed 02/26/16