Foraging for fungi poses poisoning risk

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

South Australians spending time outdoors are reminded not to pick and eat wild mushrooms as several varieties of poisonous mushrooms have been sighted around the state.

SA Health’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said any wild, unidentified mushroom could potentially be deadly.

“As we move into winter, the cooler and wetter weather conditions create the ideal growing environment for wild mushrooms,” Professor Phillips said.

“Some wild mushrooms are harmless but others, often resembling the supermarket varieties, may contain poisons that if eaten can result in sickness or death.

“With the increasing popularity of foraging and cooking shows that use exotic ingredients including unusual mushrooms, I would remind everyone that there is no reliable way to determine if a mushroom is safe to eat.”

Given the toxicity of some wild mushrooms, Professor Phillips said it is extremely important to keep a close eye on young children outdoors at this time of year.

“We know young children tend to put things in their mouths, so at this time of year it is particularly important that parents and caregivers keep watch on what children are consuming,” Professor Phillips said.

“Some wild mushrooms such as the Yellow Stainer may cause severe abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea; others, including Death Caps, can cause liver damage, kidney failure or even death, even if only a small piece is consumed.

“Anyone who becomes ill after ingesting a wild mushroom should seek urgent medical attention and if possible, should try to take a sample of the mushroom to help identify the variety and provide the best treatment.”

Honorary Research Associate at the State Herbarium of SA, Pam Catcheside, said the deadly Death Cap mushroom had been sighted in the Adelaide Hills.

“There are recent reports of the deadly Death Cap Amanita phalloides mushrooms in the Hills, as well as other poisonous species including the Yellow Stainer, or Agaricus xanthodermus, both of which resemble supermarket varieties,” Ms Catcheside said.

“Other toxic species, including the Ghost Fungus Omphalotus nidiformis and Poison Pie Hebeloma crustuliniforme, have also been spotted throughout the Adelaide Hills and it is likely that even more will appear following the recent heavy rains.

“Even the experts can have difficulty in identifying some species, so my advice would be to only eat mushrooms that have been purchased from a reliable green-grocer or supermarket.”

In some cases it can take several hours for symptoms to appear following ingestion of a wild mushroom.

If you suspect you or someone you know has eaten a wild mushroom, do not wait for symptoms to occur, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 and they will advise if it is necessary to see medical attention.

In an emergency, always call triple zero (000).

South Australian calls received by the Poisons Information Centre hotline
for suspected mushroom exposure

Year Total calls Calls (children <5 years)
2016 79 51
2015 68 44
2014 85 50
2013 106 72

Death Cap Amanita phalloides mushrooms

Death Cap Amanita phalloides mushrooms

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