Death cap mushrooms have sprouted early in the ACT this year, prompting warnings from health authorities to Canberrans to not pick or eat any wild mushrooms.
The mushrooms can easily be mistaken for edible variants, but they are poisonous. Symptoms include pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, but the chances of survival increase when treatment is started early.
Symptoms of poisoning generally occur between six-to-24 hours after eating the mushrooms, but can present more than a day later.
Do not touch the wild mushrooms with bare hands and keep children and animals away from them.
“As the name suggests, death cap mushrooms can be deadly,” said Acting ACT Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Miranda Harris. “All parts of the mushroom are poisonous, whether they have been cooked or not.
“If you think you may have eaten a death cap mushroom, urgently seek medical attention at a hospital emergency department and take any remaining mushroom to the hospital for identification.”
The mushrooms often grow near established oak trees, but can also be found where no oak trees are evident.
“We not would normally expect to see death cap mushrooms in the ACT until March or April, but an early growing season is not unheard of,” said Dr Harris.
“Eating wild mushrooms is just not worth the risk. Don’t eat mushrooms you have found in the wild, and only purchase mushrooms from a reputable supplier.”
If poisoning is suspected, further information and assistance can be sought by calling the Poisons Information Centre’s 24-hour hotline on 13 11 26.
Anyone who sees a wild mushroom in a public area can report it to Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
An ACT Health fact sheet on death cap mushrooms can be accessed here.