16 June 2016

Poison mushroom warning for rural WA

The Department of Health is warning Western Australians not to gather or eat wild mushrooms from the South West and Great Southern regions because of the risk of poisoning.

The warning comes after the potentially deadly Marbled Death Cap mushroom (Amanita marmorata) was found growing in the Denmark region of WA.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Andrew Robertson said it was the first time this variety of mushroom had been found in WA and warned of its extreme toxicity.

"Mortality rates from Death Cap mushrooms are around 50 per cent, and in some cases, death can occur within 48 hours,” Dr Robertson said.

"After initial consumption, gastro-intestinal symptoms normally develop within six to 24 hours, progressing to liver injury, bleeding, kidney damage and multiple organ failure.”

The Marbled Death Cap is a large mushroom, with a marbled white, greenish or brown cap. The gills are white, and the base of the stem is surrounded by a cup-shaped sac. The mushroom looks similar to those used in Chinese cooking.

Dr Robertson said despite many wild mushrooms looking like edible varieties, it was often difficult to distinguish which ones were safe to eat without proper identification.

“While commercially-sold mushrooms are safe, poisonings can occur when people gathering wild mushrooms inadvertently include toxic species," Dr Robertson said.

"Anyone who becomes ill after eating mushrooms, and has symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain or diarrhoea, should seek urgent medical advice – and if possible – bring samples of the whole mushroom for identification.”

Anyone with concerns about mushroom poisoning can contact the Poisons Information Centre 13 11 26 for advice.

Media contact: 9222 4333
Twitter: @WAHealth