Warning issued over deadly mushrooms

The past few weeks have seen ideal growing conditions for the mushrooms to sprout, particularly the toxic Deathcap mushrooms, according to experts.

On Wednesday, Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Angie Bone said at least eight people have been “severely poisoned” and five required intensive care in recent days, 7 News reports.

One elderly person died in hospital after consuming mushrooms.

Another patient was a child, who has since recovered and been released from hospital.

“What we understand to be happening is the weather has been conducive to the growth of mushrooms,” Dr Bone said.

“Secondly we understand that because people may have had usual activities restriction due to coronavirus concerns people might be out and about in parks and gardens more.”

A fully grown DeathCap and a baby Deathcap. Picture: Sarah Matray.Source:News Corp Australia

A warning was issued in Victoria in March when the deadly mushroom began sprouting around the state.

The ACT health department today issued its warning about the fungi, which can be “lethal if ingested”.

“They often grow near established oak trees and can be found when there is wet weather,” it said in a statement.

“Anyone who thinks they may have eaten a death cap mushroom should go straight to the nearest Emergency Department.

“Do not wait for symptoms to appear – the sooner you get treatment, the better your chance of survival.”

The bulbus base of the Deathcap stem is a good indication for people picking mushrooms that they need to avoid this one. Picture: Sarah Matray.

The bulbus base of the Deathcap stem is a good indication for people picking mushrooms that they need to avoid this one. Picture: Sarah Matray.Source:News Corp Australia

The mushrooming season starts when rain encourages growth of the fungi in the still warm earth.

Two toxic mushrooms are the death cap fungus, amanita phalloides and the yellow staining mushroom, agaricus xanthodermus.

The death cap is a large mushroom, with a cap ranging from light olive green to greenish yellow in colour.

The gills are white, and the base of the stem is surrounded by a cup-shaped sac.

The mushroom turns yellow when the cap or stem is bruised by a thumbnail.

The most dangerous variety is the death cap, usually found near deciduous trees, especially around oaks, in some Melbourne suburbs and rural areas.

Dr Bone previously told news.com.au that anyone who became ill after eating mushrooms should seek urgent medical advice and, if possible, take samples of the whole mushroom for identification.

“Symptoms of poisoning can include violent stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea,” she said.

“Symptoms may subside after a day or two – but this doesn’t necessarily mean recovery. Death can follow within 48 hours from serious liver damage. The death cap is extremely toxic and responsible for 90 per cent of all mushroom poisoning deaths.

Eating just one mushroom can be fatal for an adult, the Department of Health and Human Services warns and there have been multiple deaths associated with the death cap in Australia.

The fungi was first found growing in Tasmania in 2017. The mushrooms usually grow near established oak trees.


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