December 15, 1999
California Health Director Warns of Health Risks
Associated with Eating Wild Mushrooms
Sacramento, CA (SafetyAlerts)
- With seasonal rains in California becoming more frequent the state's Health Director,
Diana Bonta, today issued a reminder to consumers of the potential dangers of eating
In the winter of 1996-97, two deaths, multiple
hospitalizations and an unknown number of illnesses in California were attributed to the
consumption of wild mushrooms, such as Amanita phalloides, also known as
"death-cap" mushrooms. In the winter of 1998-99, at least two hospitalizations
were blamed on this deadly mushroom.
Eating poisonous mushrooms can cause cramping,
abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage and death. These symptoms may occur six
to 24 hours after consumption. After the initial gastrointestinal symptoms subside,
patients may feel much better. However, liver damage can follow the ingestion of death-cap
mushrooms, and liver transplantation may be necessary for survival in severe cases.
Although poisonous mushrooms may be found in some
parts of California year-round, they are most commonly found in the fall and winter months
after the rains.
Some poisonous mushrooms look nearly identical to
non-poisonous mushrooms. Wild mushrooms should not be eaten unless they have been
carefully examined and deemed edible by a recognized mushroom expert.
Individuals who refer to mushroom guidebooks or
have families who have collected mushrooms for many years in their native countries may
mistakenly believe that they can distinguish the deadly mushroom found in the Western
United States from edible varieties. This deadly mushroom may look different at different
times of the year, at different stages of development and in different regions. Mushroom
collectors often overestimate their ability to distinguish deadly mushrooms from edible
mushrooms, sometimes with tragic results.
Individuals who develop symptoms after eating wild
mushrooms should immediately contact the California Poison Control System at
1-800-8-POISON (876-4766) and seek medical attention.
Safety Alerts compiles comprehensive safety recall information for
the United States. SafeMail is a free email service to warn consumers of faulty products
and contaminated foods. For complete information regarding current recalls, past recalls
and timely product warning notification visit: www.safetyalerts.com.
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