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Mushroom Poisoning in NSW Put Several in Hospital

March 3, 2015

Ten people have been rushed into hospital this month as a result of consuming wild mushrooms gathered from various parts of New South Wales, leading health authorities to issue serious food safety warnings. It seems that the recently humid weather has created the perfect growing conditions for wild mushrooms, including poisonous varieties, much earlier than the usual start of the season.

According to health authorities, it can be very difficult to tell which mushrooms are poisonous, and which are edible. Unfortunately, if an individual accidentally eats the wrong one, they could suffer from serious side effects and illness, even if they cooked the mushroom beforehand. NSW health and the Royal Botanic Gardens commented that the number of people visiting emergency rooms as a result of mushroom consumption has risen “sharply” in comparison to previous years.

The impact of eating poisonous mushrooms

Four of the ten patients taken to hospital were from the Blue Mountains, three were from the central coast, two from western Sydney, and one from the Illawarra region. The result of eating poisonous mushrooms can differ according to which strain you consume. In some cases, symptoms may include abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Anyone experiencing symptoms should visit the seek medical assistance immediately, as some varieties of mushroom, such as death cap mushrooms can lead to death through liver and kidney damage. Over the past fifteen years, four people in the ACT have died as a result of eating death cap mushrooms, including two Chinese tourists.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to destroy the poison in death caps by simply cooking them, so it doesn’t matter whether you eat the fungi raw or otherwise.

Authorities urge safety

Experts are urging people throughout NSW to avoid picking or eating any mushrooms that they see growing in the wild unless they have a professional knowledge of which strains are safe to eat. In order to stay as safe as possible, consumers are being prompted only to eat mushrooms sold to them in their local supermarkets or grocery stores.

At this point, it is not known whether the people foraging for the mushrooms were looking for a high, but Dr McAnulty suggests that hallucinogenic effects may not have been the primary goal. He commented that “It seems as though people are foraging to eat mushrooms they find in the wild and cook them for the benefit of food.”

The mushroom season has been forecast to continue for the next few months.