The Toxic Lady of Riverside

GREAT Superhero name

Mystery lovers!

Happy New Year’s Day! Thank you for being a part of our community. We hope that this year brings wonderful things for all of you! Now shut up and read about “the Toxic Lady of Riverside!”

The media did indeed dub poor Gloria Ramirez with that nickname after the incident on February 19th, 1994. But why toxic? And how did she hospitalize five healthcare workers, one of which was in the ICU for two weeks after, while she was unconscious?

Let’s take a little nib nib.

Life is hard enough… but to be known as The Toxic Lady??

On the night of the incident, Ramirez was rushed to the emergency room after suffering severe heart palpitations. After standard operating procedures failed to work, staff tried to defibrillate her. 

It was at this point that several witnesses noticed some… peculiar occurrences:

  • An oily sheen covered the patient’s body

  • A fruity, garlic-like odor was detected near the patient’s mouth

  • The patient’s blood smelled like ammonia when drawn from her arm

  • Manila-colored particles were detected in her blood sample

Shortly after, a nurse fainted. Then, a medical assistant fainted. And when a respiratory therapist was the third to pass out, people started to panic...

Six Degrees of Separation with...Gloria Ramirez? 

A total of 23 people became ill and 5 were hospitalized. The only unifying factor? They had all come in contact with or were near Gloria Ramirez. 

By this point, the staff was ordered to evacuate all emergency department patients to the parking lot outside the hospital and a skeleton crew in hazmat suits worked to stabilize Ramirez. She was pronounced dead from kidney failure, related to her battle with cancer.

So… what happened?

California's Department of Health and Human Services called in two scientists, Drs. Ana Maria Osorio and Kirsten Waller, to figure it out. Their conclusion? Mass hysteria. 

This went over well obviously (sarcasm). Those that were affected were furious. 

To date, there has not been a confirmed reason for why this all went down. Here are the top four hypotheses:

  1. Mass Hysteria

  2. Ramirez had been using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a home remedy for pain. Electric shocks and extra oxygen caused DMSO to become dimethyl sulfate which is highly toxic.

  3. Hospital workers had been smuggling precursor chemicals in IV bags to produce meth and one was mistakenly given to Ramirez.

  4. Aliens. Like, super tiny itty bitty ones. 

Oh, Cool Science Photo!

Well, team, what’s the thought? Bizarre accident? Mass hysteria? ALIENS? (probably not aliens.) We love chatting it up and throwing around some explanations. If you’re looking for a bigger bite, here’s some resources to sink your teeth into:

And whether it’s aliens or not, you know the drill: 

Stay ‘spicious

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