Ricin: Control Measures Overview for Responders and Clinicians
- Be prepared for victim(s) who may present to an emergency department without prior warning.
- Direct the emergency department ventilation exhaust away from the fresh air intake to limit re-entrainment of any airborne contaminant from victims who present to and enter the emergency department.
- Comply with healthcare facility’s Emergency Response Plan.
- Prepare for mass casualties by establishing patient triage, registration, decontamination, treatment, transportation, and stabilization zones/areas for hospital admission(s).
- Perform hazard vulnerability analysis to determine if hospital can manage the anticipated number of victims.
- Determine if lockdown (shelter-in-place) is necessary, and secure area to control access and contain contamination.
- Prepare for public health surge capacity and cooperate with other healthcare facilities, local, state, and federal authorities when:
- It is determined that healthcare facility cannot manage anticipated number of victims.
- Services expand beyond normal from large scale event.
Infection Control Practitioner
- Even though ricin is sometimes referred to as a biological agent, it is a protein extracted from plant material and is not a living organism. There is no antidote for ricin poisoning. For more on ricin pathogenesis, see Epidemiological Overview for Clinicians.
- Maintain heightened awareness for evidence of ricin-exposed patients and collaborate with clinicians and laboratory to ensure immediate notification of local and state public health department officials when ricin poising is suspected
- Ensure that telephone numbers for notification of appropriate healthcare facility and public health agencies are current and distributed to the appropriate healthcare facility departments and personnel.
- Communicate with the laboratories that receive specimens for testing.
- Healthcare personnel or laboratory workers sustaining exposure via sharps injury, cuts, or abrasions should immediately wash the exposed site with a soap and water.
- Potentially exposed healthcare personnel should be advised to remove all PPE carefully, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, refrain from any hand-to-mouth activities, and shower.
- When exposure to eyes occurs, flush eyes with copious amounts of water or eye wash solution for at least 15 minutes.
- Follow standard facility policy regarding workplace exposure.
- Public Health Training Network
- Chemical Agents: Facts About Sheltering in Place
- Chemical Agents: Facts About Personal Cleaning and Disposal of Contaminated Clothing
- Chemical Agents: Facts about Evacuation
Protecting Emergency/First Responders
- Emergency/First responders Guidance on personal protective equipment selection can be found at the following sources:
- RAND and NIOSH provide recommendations for protecting emergency responders in the book Protecting Emergency Responders, Volume 3.
- OSHA provides recommendations for protecting healthcare workers from exposures when a hospital receives contaminated patients in the document OSHA BEST PRACTICES for HOSPITAL-BASED FIRST RECEIVERS OF VICTIMS from Mass Casualty Incidents Involving the Release of Hazardous Substances
- NIOSH provides recommendations for the decontamination of patients and first responders in the Emergency Response Safety and Health Database for Ricin: Biotoxin.
- EPA provides recommendations for the decontamination of surfaces in the NRT Quick Reference Card for Ricin.
- Emergency Response Resources for Emergency and First Responders
- NIOSH Emergency Response Safety and Health Database — RICIN: Biotoxin
- OSHA Standards for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- OSHA/NIOSH Interim Guidance for CBRN Response, PPE for Emergency Responders
- OSHA BEST PRACTICES for HOSPITAL-BASED FIRST RECEIVERS OF VICTIMS from Mass Casualty Incidents Involving the Release of Hazardous Substances
- Page last reviewed: April 4, 2018
- Page last updated: March 30, 2016
- Content source: National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
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