MEDICAL NOTES

Great care needed when eating wild mushrooms

Many delicious and nutritious mushrooms can be found growing in the wild. But not all mushrooms are safe for eating. Anyone contemplating picking and eating wild mushrooms must make absolutely sure they can recognise those that are dangerous.

Of greatest danger to those who enjoy picking and eating things that are found ‘naturally’ is the Deathcap Mushroom (Amanita Phalloides). This mushroom is found in many parts of the world. In 1918, 31 children in Poland died after eating a prepared meal of these mushrooms. It is believed that about one in five people who eat them will die.

Deathcap Mushrooms contain a powerful toxin (poison) which blocks many of the body’s natural functions. Cooking, freezing, or drying canot destroy the toxin.

When a deathcap mushroom is eaten, the affected person may feel all right for up to 24 hours. The first sign of trouble is usually watery diarrhoea. This may appear to settle but is followed by serious illness, usually resulting in kidney or liver failure. Death can occur 7 to 10 days after eating a single mushroom.

Deathcap mushrooms are easily recognised. (See Picture) They have a white to greeny-white cap, white gills and a swelling, or cup, at the base of their stem. They grow in the root systems of trees, especially oak trees.

 
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