CA Department of Public Health Warning: Wild Mushrooms Can Cause Death

As this year’s rainy season ramps up the Bay Area, the California Department of Public Health warns people about the dangers of eating wild mushrooms.

The consumption of fungi, which tends to spread rapidly this time of year, can cause serious illness and even death, officials say.

"Telling the difference between wild mushrooms that are safe and those that are poisonous can be difficult for many people,” Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith told CDPH. “Wild mushrooms should not be eaten unless they have been examined by a mushroom expert and determined to be edible.”

The most serious illnesses come from amanita phalloides, better known as “death cap” and amanita ocreata, the “destroying angel,” CDPH reports.

According to the California Poison Control System, 1,038 cases of poisonous mushroom ingestion were reported throughout the state from November 2016 to Jan. 15, 2018.

Among the over 1,000 cases, 16 people suffered major health outcomes like liver failure leading to coma and or a liver transplant or kidney failure requiring dialysis. Fifty-one of those suffered from dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea or injury to the liver or kidney, CDPH said.

Children younger than 6 years old were among the group, 433 of them, who found small amounts of a mushroom growing in their yards or neighborhood parks. Five-hundred-twenty-two of them were treated in a health care facility, and 16 were admitted to incentive care units.

According to CDPH, eating poisonous mushrooms can cause abdominal pain, cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage or death and people who develop those symptoms should immediately contact the Certified Provider Credentialing Specialist at (800) 222-1222.

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