Health alert issued over potentially fatal wild mushrooms

Health authorities are urging people to not pick or eat death cap mushrooms, warning the growth of the poisonous fungus is expected to increase in the upcoming autumn months.

The fungus, known as amanita phalloides, has been linked to multiple deaths in the past and often grows near established oak trees during warm and wet weather.

ACT chief health officer Kerryn Coleman said the mushrooms were known to grow in areas across the ACT and anticipated a flurry of fungus clusters to sprout in the upcoming weeks.

“We had an early growing season this year due to mild summer temperatures, but autumn is usually the peak growing period,” Dr Coleman said.

She said the death caps could be “extremely difficult to distinguish from edible mushrooms”.

Last year one person died and eight were hospitalised after eating the deadly mushrooms.

Dr Coleman warned the community not to touch them with bare hands and to keep children and animals away from them.

“All parts of the death cap mushroom are poisonous, whether they have been cooked or not,” she said.

Symptoms of death cap mushroom poisoning include stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and typically occur six to 24 hours or longer after consuming the mushrooms.

But symptoms could subside for one to two days, providing a false impression of recovery.

“By this stage, the toxin will have already caused serious liver damage and liver failure or death may occur, “ Dr Coleman said.

“If you think you may have eaten a death cap mushroom, seek urgent medical attention at a hospital emergency department even if there are no symptoms. If possible, take any remaining mushrooms to the hospital for identification.

“The chances of survival increase when treatment is started early.

“Do not take the risk and don’t eat mushrooms you have found in the wild. All mushrooms should be bought from a reputable supplier.”

Call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 in the event of suspected poisoning.

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