A man accused of sending suspicious letters to the president and other Senate leaders has been arrested.
The FBI believes the letters that 45 year-old Paul Kevin Curtis sent contained a poison known as Ricin.
Our Nick Perreault spoke with an infectious disease expert on the dangers of coming in contact with that substance.
The suspicious letters containing a poisonous material sent to Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker and President Obama comes from something found growing in the ground.
"Ricin is something that is derived from a plant and is simply extracted from that," said Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Dan Havilchek Jr.
Simple caster beans are harmless, but Professor Dan Havlichek says once chemically changed into a poison, it can have life-threatening properties depending on how you come in contact with the toxin.
"If you were going to inhale it, you would have respiratory problems, you could also use it to poison somebody and then you'd have gastrointestinal problems," Havilchek said.
Havlichek says that could lead to live and kidney damage and even death and says the effects aren't immediately noticeable.
"It's not what I would say minutes to hours, but hours to days." It's another reason why the chief says it's important to monitor your health after being in contact within any suspicious package.
"There is no real clear diagnosis, this doesn't make sense, this guy is 30 years old and he's got phenomena and he's about to die," Havilchek said.
And in some situations Havlicheck says you need to consider you've been a victim of bio terrorist assault and seek help immediately.
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