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Don’t pick and eat wild mushrooms

South Australians heading outdoors as the weather turns colder are reminded not to pick and eat wild mushrooms. 

Death cap mushrooms will cause serious illness or even death and are easily mistaken for similar looking edible varieties.

While some wild mushrooms might look like common varieties found on supermarket shelves, eating them can cause serious illness or even death.

Mushroom poisoning can cause violent stomach cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. It can take several hours for symptoms to appear and they can last for up to three days.

This year’s mushroom season has coincided with more people being at home and already there has been an increase in the number of calls to the Poisons Information Hotline from people seeking help after eating wild mushrooms.

It’s especially important to keep an eye on children and pets outside as mushrooms are in easy reach, and can look interesting and attractive to eat.

Around two-thirds of all calls to the hotline about mushroom poisoning involve children less than five years-of-age, with 21 of the 30 calls this year involving young children and five of these were referred to hospital.

Pets are also at risk of dying after eating poisonous mushrooms and owners should immediately seek veterinary attention if they suspect their pets have eaten wild mushrooms.

Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia senior botanist Dr Teresa Lebel said people should only eat mushrooms that have been purchased from a reliable green-grocer or supermarket.

“There is no simple test that will tell you if a mushroom is safe to eat or not and even experts can have difficulty identifying certain species,” Dr Lebel said.

“Poisonous mushrooms sprout across South Australia following heavy rain, usually between late summer and early winter when the earth is still warm.

“A major problem is that species such as the Death Cap can be easily mistaken for the Stubble Rosegill Volvopluteus gloiocephalus and with fatal results, since the latter species is very similar to the Paddy Straw Mushroom Volvariella volvacea, a delicacy in Asian cuisine.

“People born overseas, particularly from Asian countries, should be aware that these highly toxic mushrooms can look like edible mushrooms.”

If you suspect you or someone you know has eaten a wild mushroom, do not wait for symptoms to appear, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. In an emergency, always call triple zero (000).

For more information visit www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/mushroompoisoning

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