Poisonous mushroom warning

Residents are being warned not to pick and eat wild mushrooms, in case they are Death Cap mushrooms (pictured). Image from The Age.

Residents are being warned not to pick and eat wild mushrooms, in case they are Death Cap mushrooms (pictured). Image from The Age.

Residents are being advised against picking and eating mushrooms, following a recent spate of Death Cap mushroom poisoning cases that have left four ACT residents in hospital.

The Southern NSW Local Health District declined to comment, but ACT Health authorities said Death Cap mushrooms commonly grow in areas near established oak trees during cooler weather, and may therefore be found in the south-east region.

ACT Health spokesperson Jessica Summerrell said any wild mushrooms growing in public areas should be reported to the local council, and that people should avoid picking and eating any wild mushrooms to ensure their safety.

“We’re unsure as to whether Death Cap mushrooms are growing in the region, but what we know is that they commonly grow in areas near established oak trees,” she said.

“We urge anyone who comes across wild mushrooms and thinks they might be Death Caps to notify the local council or health authorities.

“Our constant message is not to pick them and eat them; each Death Cap mushroom contains enough poison to kill an adult.”

Death Cap mushrooms are 40-160mm wide, and are generally pale green to yellow in colour, but may also be white.

Its distinguishing features include crowded white gills that are not attached to the stalk, a papery cup-shaped volva at the base and a skirt-like ring high on the stem.

If poisoned by Death Cap mushrooms, symptoms including violent stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are likely to occur 6-24 hours or more after ingestion.

Symptoms may subside for a few days, giving a false sense of recovery, but the toxins present in Death Cap mushrooms cause severe liver damage which may result in death several days after ingestion.

Anyone who suspects they may have eaten poisonous mushrooms is urged to seek immediate medical attention at a hospital emergency department, and take a whole mushroom sample for identification where possible.

The Poisons Information Centre may provide further information and assistance, and can be contacted on 13 11 26.

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