OLYMPIA – Wednesday night a vial of an unknown substance was opened by an individual in the Providence St. Peter Hospital Emergency Center waiting room.
Out of an abundance of caution, hazardous exposure precautions were activated. Providence immediately began coordinating with Thurston County Public Health Department, law enforcement, Olympia Fire and Camp Murray Hazmat.
It was determined this afternoon by the WA State Department of Health Public Health Laboratories the substance found in the Emergency Center tested a preliminary positive as containing ricin. Follow-up testing will be performed at another facility.
According to Dr. Rachel Wood, Thurston County Public Health Officer, there is no ongoing public health risk due to the incident which occurred last night. Ricin poisoning is not contagious. Ricin-associated illness cannot be spread from person to person or through casual contact.
Providence identified the individuals who were present at the time of the incident and may have been exposed to the substance. Providence is working with the Thurston County Public Health Department to notify those individuals and ensure anyone who may have been exposed receives appropriate follow-up care.
For additional questions please call Angela Maki, Communications Director, Providence SW Washington, 360-280-1710. For additional questions related to ricin exposure, contact the Thurston County Public Health Department at 360-867-2661.