Wild mushrooms foraged from the wild could be dangerous, or even fatal, to those people consuming the fungi, a coalition of doctors has stated. Mushroom poisoning is a serious condition, and has been known to cause death.
Mushroom foraging is popular in many areas of the world during spring and summer. However, some varieties of edible mushrooms resemble other, dangerous, species.
A 52-year-old Canadian woman recently became severely ill after eating mushrooms she found in the park. Around 12 hours after she ate mushrooms foraged with her husband, the victim was admitted to the hospital with severe gastrointestinal distress. She was the only one person in her recent social circle who ate the mushrooms, and she was the lone person to become ill.
Amanita bisporigera, a poisonous fungus, caused liver failure, requiring a transplant of that vital organ. Health care workers treated the subject with activated charcoal and other medicines designed to clear toxins from her body. The patient recovered well from her surgery, and left the hospital 10 days after being admitted.
Victims of poisoning by A. bisporigera typically experience three phases of the disease. First, they typically experience nausea, vomiting, and other digestive distress. This usually lasts between six and 24 hours from the time the fungus is consumed. This is usually followed by a false recovery, which typically lasts from one to two days. Many patients are prematurely released from emergency rooms and hospitals during this time, increasing risk to patients. Roughly 48 hours following consumption of bisporigera, the liver of the victim fails, unable to cope with the toxin. This can lead to the failure of other organs in the body, potentially leading to death.
Amanita mushrooms, which are found in over 600 varieties, cause most of the deaths seen from mushrooms. There is no known cure for mushroom poisoning, and charcoal can only reduce the absorption of the toxins, but it must be administered relatively quickly to be most helpoul.
"Distinguishing safe from harmful mushrooms is a challenge even for mycologists," Adina Weinerman of Sunnybrook Health Sciences in Canada stated in the report.
Doctors treating the Canadian woman provided her with morphine along with intravenous fluids and medicine to alleviate the effects of nausea.
Foraging for mushrooms is becoming increasingly popular, but doctors are warning people that, when picking wild mushrooms, a little knowledge could be a dangerous thing.
"Patients should be counselled that poisonous and edible mushrooms can be very similar in appearance and that wild mushrooms of uncertain identity should not be eaten. This information is especially important for immigrants who might mistake local poisonous mushrooms for familiar edible species from their native land," the report concludes.
The advisory warning was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
Photo: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose | Flickr