Two critically ill in San Francisco after drinking toxic tea

Henrietta Strickland
March 12, 2017

San Francisco's Department of Public Health has issued a warning after two of the city's residents were poisoned and became critically ill from herbal tea they consumed from a Chinatown shop.

According to the Chronicle, the culprit tea leaves were sold by the Sun Wing Wo Trading Co., an herbalist at 1105 Grant Ave.

In two separate incidents that occurred in February and March, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 30s fell critically ill after drinking the tea requiring resuscitation and hospitalization within an hour after consumption.

"Both patients developed symptoms about an hour after consuming the tea", said Dr. Tomas Aragon, health officer for the city and county of San Francisco. They have warned people not to drink tea from Sun Wing Wo. The department is also working with the business owner to trace the source of the contamination and ensure safety for future customers. There is no antidote for aconite poisoning.

"The investigation is just starting, but we know that the tea in both instances came from the same place", said Rachael Kagan, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. "Aconite poisoning attacks the heart and can be lethal".

Aconite, known as the herbs helmet flower, wolfsbane, and monkshood, is often used in Eastern medicines, but in order for it to be safe, they must be processed correctly. Cardiovascular abnormalities such as low blood pressure, palpitations, chest pains, slow or fast heartbeats, as well as irregular heartbeats, which can lead to sudden death, may also be experienced, in addition to gastrointestinal abnormalities, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. While the plant's raw flowers are highly toxic in their natural state, once properly processed, they can be safely consumed.

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