Eight Hospitalised With Toxic Mushroom Poisoning In Victoria
Australians are being warned not to consume wild mushrooms after recent poisonings left at least five people in intensive care and is suspected to have caused at least one death.
The warning over the potentially deadly mushrooms comes after at least eight people had to be treated in hospital after consuming some in Victoria this month.
One of the five patients requiring intensive care was a child.
An elderly person who was also in intensive care after consuming a mushroom has since died, but their exact cause of death is yet to be determined by a coroner.
On Wednesday the state's Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Angie Bone said Victoria had so far recorded more cases than would normally be expected at this time of the year from mushroom poisoning.
"This is quite unprecedented," she told reporters.
Bone believes the weather has been a large contributor to the increase in cases in recent weeks, with more mushrooms growing, and an extended season meaning people are exposed to the risk for much longer.
Bone said the Victorian Poison's Information Line has also seen a "significant increase" in calls for advice about mushrooms.
"The weather this Autumn has been particularly conducive to the growth of mushrooms," she said.
"There are more mushrooms out there so the season is longer and because people have had some of their usual activities restricted due to coronavirus concerns, people may be out and about in parks and gardens a bit more and come across them."
Bone said it was important all Australians know that wild mushrooms can be extremely dangerous -- in particular the yellow stainer and the death cap mushroom -- the latter of which can be fatal after ingesting just one.
Symptoms from the death cap mushrooms include severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which in some cases can resolve after 48 hours, but in others can lead to liver failure and death.
"These mushrooms are very deceptive, they look like mushrooms you can buy in-store," Bone said, adding that cooking, peeling or drying them would not make them any less toxic.
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria's Dr Tom May said death cap mushrooms have white gills underneath.
"Initially it's covered by a membrane, like being in an egg and it leaves this cup shape at the base of the stem," he said.
"This mushroom always grows with oak trees it grows widely in Melbourne ... and also regional areas."
Meanwhile, the yellow stainer mushrooms also have distinctive characteristics around it.
"Particularly around the fact that when you scratch it, you get a little yellow stain around the edge of the cap," May said.
"These mushrooms are very common in large numbers in parks and gardens, they are grown in lawns, they grow among mulch."
"These mushrooms have become very common cities in the last few decades."
Bone said while the mushrooms can be fatal to humans they are also extremely dangerous for animals and urged people with pets to be particularly careful.
But with no antidote, the message from health authorities is simple: "if you're not an expert, don't pick or consume wild mushrooms."