SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Department of Public Health released a press report detailing that in separate occurrences, two people, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 30s, fell ill in February and March within one hour after consuming herbal tea from the Sun Wing Wo Trading Company in Chinatown.
The tea leaves, reportedly distributed in an unlabeled plastic bag were may have contained a toxin called Aconite, which is used in Asian herbal medicine to treat pains and other conditions. When ingested, it can be fatal.
Health officials stated: “Each quickly developed weakness, and then life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms, requiring resuscitation and intensive hospital care.”
The tea has been removed from the shelves of the store located at 1105 Grant Avenue and health inspectors are in the process of locating the original source of the herbs.
Dr. Tomás Aragón, Health Officer for the City & County of San Francisco, disclosed additional information on the plant-based poison and its affect when consumed.
“This Aconite poisoning which can come from Chinese herbal teas if not processed correctly it can affect the heart. It can give them neuological symptoms like tingling it can also give you nausea and vomiting,” Aragón told NBC Bay Area News. He noted that the toxin could poison the heart and be fatal.
Aragón advised others who have purchased the tea to not drink it and discard it. Health authorities advise those who have consumed the tea and not been affected to discontinue drinking it, and that those who have experienced symptoms to call 911 or to go to the hospital.
It is unknown if the victims were poisoned intentionally. According to reports, there is no anti-toxin for the poison.