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Wild mushroom poisoning warning renewed by charity

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Wild mushroom poisoning warning renewed by charity

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The Food Safety Information Council reminds Australians about the dangers of getting sick from eating wild mushrooms.

According to the charity, mushrooms are being grown in the country after rainy weather. Similar warnings were issued in previous years.

Chair of the Food Safety Information Council, Cathy Moir, stated that while foraging for food is becoming more popular, gathering mushrooms outside can be dangerous.

“The poison in one deathcap mushroom, if consumed, can kill a healthy adult. A young child was hospitalized in Australia’s Capital Territory (ACT), after consuming a deathcap mushroom. She said that two people died in 2012 from the poisonous mushrooms consumed at a New Years Eve dinner party in Canberra. In 2014, four people were also seriously poisoned by the mushrooms.

Although deathcap mushrooms can appear at any season, they are more common after rains. They can be found in the Canberra area, in and around Melbourne and in Adelaide. They are not native to Australia, and they are often found near oak trees that are thriving in wet weather. Although they are not as toxic, similar native marbled death caps mushrooms have been found throughout Western Australia.

“Deathcap mushrooms can be difficult to distinguish from other wild mushrooms, so we recommend that you eat only mushrooms purchased from a greengrocer, supermarket, or another trusted source. People who were born in Asia, particularly in Asia, should be aware of the fact that deadly mushrooms can look similar to edible mushrooms they might have gathered back home.

Children often affected
Death cap mushrooms contain toxic substances that cannot be destroyed by cooking, peeling, drying, or baking. Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. They usually appear between 10 and 16 hours after eating. They may improve in the first 2 to 3 days, but then they can become severe for 3 to 4 days. People may fall into a coma or die from complications of kidney and liver disease if they don’t receive medical attention quickly.

Moir stated that while the death cap variety is the most deadly, other mushroom types can also cause illness.

“There are many wild mushrooms in Australia that can cause serious illness, including stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. These include the Galerina and Cortinarius species, the ghost mushrooms (commonly mistakenly for oyster mushrooms), and yellow stainer which resembles field mushrooms and is the most frequently ingested poisonous mushroom within Victoria and New South Wales.” she explained.

“Many children are accidentally exposed to poisonous mushrooms. Children under 5 years of age are at high risk. Keep in mind that children with small mouths have a natural tendency to put things in their mouths. You or your child should not wait for symptoms to develop if you suspect they may have eaten a poisonous mushroom. Instead, go to an emergency department and bring the mushroom with you.

Wild mushrooms are not only a concern in Australia. In China, there were almost 500 cases of mushroom poisoning in 2022, with 28 deaths.

At least 60 cases of wild mushrooms-related illnesses were reported in France in September 2022.

Tox Info Suisse, Switzerland’s poison information center, reported that there was an increase of calls about poisoning plants and food and drink in 2022, while reports of poisoning or suspected mushrooms poisoning rose by 25% from 2021.

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