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November 4, 2003
Health advisory issued about consuming wild mushrooms
  
Toronto Public Health is advising the public of the potential health risks
associated with eating wild mushrooms, following a recent tragic event.

A 62 year-old Toronto woman died last week from liver and kidney failure after
consuming wild mushrooms picked in the city. The mushroom has been identified
as a Lepiota species, most likely a Lepiota josserandi. The woman's husband was
mildly ill and has recovered.

"Edible mushrooms may appear similar to poisonous species. Unless you are an
expert at mushroom identification, our advice is to not consume wild mushrooms.
Mistakes can be fatal," said Dr. Karl Kabasele, Associate Medical Officer of
Health.

"Depending on the type of mushroom, symptoms may take a few days to develop,"
said Dr. Margaret Thompson, Medical Director of the Ontario Regional Poison
Information Centre at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. "The important thing is
to seek medical attention as soon as possible, especially if you suspect young
children of consuming any wild mushrooms."

Fatal poisonings are rare in Ontario as the majority of affected people recover
fully. Symptoms most commonly associated with consumption of poisonous
mushrooms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. More severe
symptoms include sweating, convulsions, hallucinations and coma.

Wild mushrooms are found in urban centres in back yards and parks as well as in
rural areas. Although the growing season is almost over, mushrooms may continue
to grow in the fall during warmer, wet weather.

"Mushrooms like the type consumed by this individual are common throughout
Ontario," said University of Toronto Assistant Professor Dr. James Scott, who
tested the mushroom consumed in this case. He emphasized that although mushroom
gathering is common in many cultures and parts of the world, people should be
careful. "Some poisonous species found in Canada resemble edible mushrooms from
other countries. An abundance of caution is therefore essential."

Anyone with health concerns related to eating mushrooms should consult a health
care provider or call the local Poison Information Centre. In Toronto, call
416-813-5900; outside Toronto call 1-800-268-9017.

Media contacts:
Mary Margaret Crapper, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7873
Dr. James Scott, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto,
416-836-2185
Dr. Marg Thompson, Medical Director Poison Information Centre,
416-813-8870



 

 

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