Breadcrumbs

Wild Mushrooms Warning

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

As several poisonous mushroom varieties begin to pop up following recent rain, South Australians are reminded not to pick and eat wild mushrooms.

SA Health’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, said more than 30 people had been admitted to South Australian hospitals for mushroom poisoning since 2015, including at least 12 children.

“Any wild, unidentified mushroom can potentially be deadly, and the cooler and wetter weather conditions we’re now seeing create the ideal growing environment for wild mushrooms,” Dr Spurrier said.

“While some wild mushrooms are edible, there are others that can resemble supermarket varieties, which may contain poisons that 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.

“I would also particularly urge parents to keep a close eye on young children outdoors at this time of year, as we know they tend to put things in their mouths.” 

Some wild mushrooms such as the Yellow Stainer can 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.

Honorary Research Associate at the State Herbarium of SA, Pam Catcheside, said the recent rainfall has resulted in the deadly Death Cap mushroom popping up in areas, including the Adelaide Hills.

“Poisonous Death Cap Mushrooms Amanita phalloides are responsible for nine out of ten deaths from mushroom poisoning in Australia. All parts of the fungus are poisonous and their worst toxins can’t be destroyed by cooking,” Ms Catcheside said.

“A major problem with the Death Cap is that it has been mistaken for the Stubble Rosegill Volvopluteus gloiocephalus with fatal results, since the latter species is very similar to the Paddy Straw Mushroom Volvariella volvacea, a delicacy in Asian cuisine.

“People born overseas, particularly in Asian countries, should be aware that these highly toxic mushrooms can look like edible mushrooms that they may have gathered in their home countries.

“The Australian fungi are not well known. What may look like a European or Asian edible species may be highly toxic. 

“Even the experts can have difficulty in identifying some species, so my advice is to eat only mushrooms that have been purchased from a reliable grower, 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 seek medical attention.

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

Pets are also at risk of dying after eating poisonous mushrooms, so owners should immediately seek veterinary attention for their dog or cat if they suspect their pets have eaten wild mushrooms. 

For more information visit www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/mushroompoisoning.


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

Year

Total Calls

Calls (children <5 years)

2018 (YTD)

8

8 (3 referred to hospital)

2017

80

48 (13 referred to hospital)

2016

79

51 (19 referred to hospital)

2015

68

44 (17 referred to hospital)

2014

85

50 (20 referred to hospital)

 

Death Cap Amanita phalloides mushroom


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