Investigation underway amid reports of poisoning at Markham, Ont., restaurant

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An investigation is underway amid reports of a suspected poisoning at a restaurant in Markham.

York Region Public Health said people who had eaten food from Delight Restaurant & BBQ on Castlemore Avenue in Markham and are experiencing symptoms should seek medical help.

“The Regional Municipality of York is currently investigating reports of several individuals becoming seriously ill following a meal at a restaurant in the City of Markham,” the public health body said in a statement sent to Global News.

York Regional Police also said officers were made aware of an incident on Sunday.

Police said York Region Public Health is the leading the investigation into the case.

Public health was unable to confirm how many were in hospital. No charges have been laid.

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York Region Public Health said Delight Restaurant & BBQ was closed and cooperating with its investigation.

“York Region Public Health responded immediately by launching an investigation and closing the restaurant,” the health unit said.

York Region Public Health has not released any of its findings, including how people have become seriously ill after eating at the Markham restaurant.

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The federal Office of the Minister of Public Safety also released a statement concerning the possible poisoning.

”We are aware of concerning reports of possible food borne poisonings in the Markham area,” the statement said.

“We will continue to monitor for further details provided by the police of jurisdiction – the York Regional Police – as well as regional health authorities as the situation unfolds. At this time, they are best placed to provide the most recent updates on this incident.”

David Juurlink, head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Toronto, was among the first individuals to post about the reported incident online.

“The report was shared with me by colleagues and I subsequently spoke with some physicians who were involved in the care of people who appear to have had poisoning after eating a chicken-based dish in a restaurant in Markham,” Juurlink told Global News.

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“And it’s important to be clear that we don’t yet know exactly what the cause of the poisoning is, but the features in these cases are very suggestive of a poison called aconite, which is a plant poison that can be very dangerous and in some cases fatal.”

It’s not clear how many people may have become sick.

“The cases involved had an immediate onset of sort of a bitter taste followed by stomach upset, nausea, cramping, numbness of the face and then some very severe and potentially life-threatening irregularities of their heartbeat. That’s exactly what aconite does,” Juurlink said.

Juurlink said while sometimes aconite is used in traditional Chinese medicine, it “should be nowhere near a food supply.”

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“If this was in fact aconite I think are really only two possibilities: either it was an accident or hopefully less likely, deliberate,” he said.

“And if it was an accident, presumably it related to contamination of the food supply. It could be a mix-up, for example, of aconite root with something else.”

Dr. Michael Warner, who works at Michael Garron Hospital, also posted about the incident on Twitter.

He said a notice has been circulating throughout intensive care units in the GTA about the event which has “apparently affected multiple patients.”

More to come.

— with files from Global News’ Isaac Callan

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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