Wild mushrooms can kill you!

Think before you eat

The fall rains are coming, and with them come wild mushrooms, which epicures love to eat. The problem is that some of those mushrooms are poisonous and can cause serious illness and even death.

According to the California Poison Control System, 1,748 cases of mushroom ingestion were reported statewide in 2009-10. Among those cases:

• Two people died.

• Ten individuals suffered a major health outcome, such as liver failure leading to coma and/or a liver transplant, or kidney failure requiring dialysis.

• 19 were admitted to an intensive-care unit.

The most serious illnesses and deaths have been linked primarily to mushrooms known to cause liver damage, including Amanita ocreata, or “destroying angel,” and Amanita phalloides, also known as the “death cap” (pictured). These and other poisonous mushrooms grow in some parts of California year-round, but are most commonly found during fall, late winter or spring.

Eating poisonous mushrooms can cause abdominal pain, cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage and death. Individuals who develop symptoms after eating wild mushrooms should seek immediate medical attention. Likewise, they or their treating health-care providers should immediately contact the CPCS at (800) 222-1222.

Local mycological societies may be able to help individuals identify whether mushrooms they have picked are safe. For more information about mycological societies in California, visit www.namyco.org/clubs/index.html.