A Georgia man who has shown support for white supremacist groups is being investigated by the FBI after authorities say he drove himself to a hospital for exposure to ricin, a deadly toxin, according to the New York Daily News. William Christopher Gibbs of Morgantown, in north-central Georgia, is employed as a machine operator at Pilgrim’s Pride, according to his Facebook page. Pilgrim’s Pride is the largest poultry company in the world.
Gibbs took himself to the hospital last Thursday, saying he had ricin on his hands. A search of his car tested positive for the substance, according to the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office.
This case illustrates the danger an insider could potentially wreak on a company and the importance of carefully vetting employees. The FBI is believed to have searched the Pilgrim’s Pride property and found nothing, but Gibbs could potentially have put the deadly poison in an air duct or other place where it could have been easily inhaled if not caught in time.
Ricin, made from castor beans, is rated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a category B bioterrorism agent, just behind the highest-risk category A agents such as anthrax, plague and Ebola, according to Science News. Inhaling ricin can make breathing so difficult the skin turns blue. Ingesting ricin can cause diarrhea, vomiting and seizures. Death can come as soon as 36 hours after exposure.