Health experts issue wild mushroom warning ahead of winter

Health experts issue wild mushroom warning ahead of winter

South Australians planning to spend time outdoors during the cooler months are being reminded of the risks associated with picking and eating potentially deadly wild mushrooms.

The cooler, wet weather creates the ideal growing conditions for wild mushrooms in South Australia, with mushrooms increasingly popping up in areas such as parks, backyards, paddocks, nature reserves and forests.

This includes reports of Death Cap mushrooms or Amanita phalloides, which are extremely poisonous and must not be eaten.

Fatal Death Cap mushrooms are extremely difficult to distinguish from other wild mushrooms and can resemble edible species.

Death Cap mushrooms can appear at any time of year but are more common a week or two after good rain.

While they may look inviting to touch and eat, ingesting them can cause serious illness or death.

This is why it is important to not eat wild mushrooms and to keep a close eye on curious children, as well as pets, especially when outside.

Around 40% of the calls made to the Poisons Information Centre last year about mushroom poisoning involved children under the age of five.

There was also a 13% increase in t1otal mushroom-related calls to the Poisons Information Centre recently, with 105 in 2022 compared to 119 in 2023, and a 136% jump in cases referred to hospital, from 22 in 2022 to 52 last year – the highest figure in at least a decade.

Symptoms of mushroom poisoning include severe stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, which may take several hours to appear and can last up to three days.

Poisoning from several varieties, including Death Cap mushrooms, may have a delayed onset of symptoms – up to 24 hours – and can cause life-threatening liver 
damage.

For more information on mushroom poisoning, visit the SA Health website.

Chief Public Health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said there was no reliable way of telling if a wild mushroom was safe to eat or not.

“So my very clear advice is to not take the risk – do not eat wild mushrooms,” she said.

“Even experts have difficulty in identifying some species, so you should only eat mushrooms that have been purchased from a reliable grower, green-grocer or supermarket.

“If you or someone you know has eaten a wild mushroom, do not wait for symptoms to appear.

“It’s important to seek immediate medical advice in case the ingested mushroom is toxic.

“You can contact the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126 for advice or call triple zero (000) in an emergency.

“If you suspect your pet has eaten wild mushrooms, seek veterinary attention immediately.”

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