A letter addressed to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tested positive for ricin, but the billionaire mayor didn’t come in contact with the poisoned missive.
Citing “two people familiar with the matter,” The New York Times reported Wednesday that a second letter addressed to the Washington, D.C., offices of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the advocacy group spearheaded by Bloomberg, also tested positive for ricin. Bloomberg is a fervent gun control advocate and has used his personal fortune to fund political candidates who share his views.
NBC News tweeted that the letters threatened Bloomberg and referenced the gun control debate.
The letter addressed to Bloomberg was sent to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development at 100 Gold St. in lower Manhattan, the Times reported.
The FBI is investigating who sent both ricin letters.
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Bloomberg didn’t come into contact with either letter, nor did he receive them, the paper said. The ricin did not cause any injuries nor sickened anyone who handled the letters, a Times source said.
Ricin, derived from castor beans, is toxic and can be harmful if inhaled. Symptoms of ricin inhalation include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chest tightness and heavy sweating, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Ricin poising could cause death anywhere from three to four days after exposure to the toxin.
Ricin can also be harmful if ingested. Symptoms of ingested ricin include vomiting, diarrhea, severe dehydration and blood in the urine.
The poison can also cause illness through skin and eye exposure, although those scenarios are less likely.
“Contact with ricin powders or products may cause redness and pain of the skin and the eyes,” the CDC website says. “However, if you touch ricin that is on your skin and then eat food with your hands or put your hands in your mouth, you may ingest some.”
The Times report of the ricin letters sent to Bloomberg comes a month after similar missives addressed to President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., tested positive for the toxin. Federal agents arrested Tupelo, Miss., resident Everett Dutschke in connection with the Obama and Wicker letters and charged him with attempted use of a biological weapon.