12 March 2019

Fatal death cap mushrooms spotted in Canberra

| Lachlan Roberts
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Death cap mushroom. Photo: Supplied by The Food Safety Information Council.

Canberrans are being warned to keep a lookout for the deadly death cap mushrooms after the wild mushroom was spotted in the ACT for the first time since May last year.

The mushrooms, which have killed four people in the ACT since 2002, are extremely poisonous and can easily be confused with other wild mushrooms.

The fatal mushrooms are usually found in autumn when there is warm, wet weather, usually growing near established oak trees. Acting ACT chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman has warned Canberrans not to eat or pick any wild mushrooms.

“Death cap mushrooms can be lethal if ingested,” Dr Coleman said. “It is crucial for people to understand that all parts of the mushroom are poisonous and cooking them does not make them safe to eat.”

Dr Coleman warned the community not to touch the mushroom with bare hands and to keep children and animals away from it.

“If you think you have eaten a death cap mushroom, seek urgent medical attention at a hospital emergency department and take any remaining mushroom to the hospital for identification,” she said.

“Symptoms of poisoning generally occur 6-24 hours or more after eating mushrooms and include pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

“The sooner treatment begins, the better the chances of survival.”

There have been four fatalities and a number of poisonings associated with death cap mushrooms in the ACT since 2002.

Dr Coleman urged Canberrans and anyone visiting Canberra not to pick or eat any wild mushrooms, and to purchase all mushrooms from a reputable supplier.

Anyone who finds a mushroom in a public area can contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81. For more information about the Death Cap mushroom, click here.

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Can we get mushroom testing alongside the pill testing?

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