KeepHealthCare.ORG – Warning as dozens hospitalised with mushroom poisoning
“Unidentified mushrooms picked in the wild can make you very ill and could be lethal, so people should only eat shop-bought mushrooms,” Dr Scalley said.
“Cooler, wetter weather is making good growing conditions for wild mushrooms. But it is difficult for most people to recognise edible from poisonous mushrooms,” he said.
Eating poisonous mushrooms can cause severe abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating, confusion and hallucinations, Dr Scalley said.
Some varieties can be fatal, triggering severe kidney and liver damage.
Head of the PIC Jared Brown some of Australia’s poisonous wild mushrooms look similar to edible wild mushrooms found in Asia or Europe.
“There are many mushroom species growing in the wild including the Death Cap mushroom – Amanita phalloides – for example, which can cause serious poisoning, and potentially fatal organ damage,” Mr Brown said.
Death cap mushrooms are 40-160 mm wide an range in colour from light olive green to yellow with white gills and a white stem.
The yellow-staining mushroom turns yellow when the cap or stem is bruised by a finger and is slippery to touch.
All parts of the mushroom are poisonous and ingesting one is enough to kill a healthy adult.
But Mr Brown said there was no reliable way to identify mushrooms picked in the wild.
“Their appearance can often change at different stages of its growth, and can look similar to edible mushroom species, making it very difficult, even for an expert, to differentiate.”
“We strongly advise that people do not pick or consume wild mushrooms at all. It is simply not worth the risk,” Mr Brown said.
Cooking or boiling wild mushrooms does not make them safe to eat.
Two people died from eating death caps in 2012 after eating the mushrooms at a New Year’s Eve party in Canberra.
There were 281 hospitalisations from mushroom poisoning in NSW and ACT between 2014-17, according to the PIC, which received 893 calls from people eating wild mushrooms over the period.
Anyone who ingests wild mushrooms should contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 immediately, even if they are completely well as symptoms can be delayed in onset and early treatment is vital, NSW Health advised.
In an emergency, people should call 000 for an ambulance or seek medical treatment through their doctor or local hospital emergency department.
The NSW Health warning follows similar alerts in Victoria and South Australia.
Kate Aubusson is Health Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.
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