Exercise caution when picking wild mushrooms

October 10, 2016

Island Health is warning recreational wild mushroom pickers to use extreme caution after what is believed to be a serious poisoning resulting in hospitalization earlier this week in Victoria.

The individual involved has been sent out of province for further treatment after consuming mushrooms foraged in downtown Victoria.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick says it appears the patient likely ingested the Amanita phalloides, also known as the “Death Cap” mushroom.

“Poisonous mushrooms such as the Death Cap do not just grow in the forest,”    Dr. Stanwick said. “They can be found anywhere, including urban areas.”

Dr. Stanwick said samples of mushrooms thought to be Amanita phalloides were collected yesterday from the site where the individual foraged, and will be sent for confirmatory testing.

“We are very concerned that people may not have sufficient experience or knowledge to tell the difference between a poisonous and non-poisonous mushroom,” he said. “The differences can be very subtle and for some species, only a microscopic examination can distinguish the safe variety. Picking wild mushrooms is an activity that requires real expertise, and experts are amongst the most cautious of foragers.”

Tips to stay safe while mushroom hunting:
• If you are unsure or uncertain, don’t eat it;
• Only pick and eat mushrooms that are well known, distinct and easily identifiable;
• Eat small amounts;
• If you suspect you’ve consumed a poisonous mushroom, call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 1-800-567-8911 or 604-682-5050, and seek medical attention, or call 911. In both cases, keep a sample of the mushroom or food that was eaten.

                                                                     BC Centre for Disease Control

For more information, please go to the BC Centre for Disease Control website at http://www.bccdc.ca and search Death Cap mushrooms.

Media inquiries:
Kellie Hudson
Media Relations Manager
250.370.8908/250.716.7750 (after-hours)