With cool, wet fall weather rolling in, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is warning people that the most poisonous mushroom in the world — the death cap — is back in plentiful supply.
Because mushrooms thrive during the wetter months of the year, the BCCDC says the death cap can now be found in both urban areas and forest. The centre is urging people with young children or pets to keep a careful eye on them when they’re playing outside.
Mushroom foragers should also be wary. The fungi can be easily mistaken as a puff ball mushroom but, unlike this tasty lookalike, the death cap mushroom can be fatal if ingested.
“Foragers should remember one basic rule: never eat anything that hasn’t been identified with certainty. A mistake can have serious or even deadly consequences,” said mycologist Paul Kroeger.
In 2016, a three-year-old Victoria boy died after ingesting one. He had been out foraging for mushrooms with his family.
In the first six to 12 hours after ingesting the death cap, the BCCDC says people will experience cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.
These symptoms can clear up after the first 24 hours and remain clear for up to 72 hours, giving people a false sense of being fine. Symptoms of liver and kidney damage will start to appear three to six days after ingestion.
A 2008 survey by the Vancouver Mycological Society found the death cap growing in more than 100 urban sites in the Vancouver area. The mushroom has also been spotted in various locations in Greater Victoria.
Most years, the majority of mushroom calls the Drug and Poison Information Centre receives are for children aged five and under. This year, that number has dropped significantly to 36 per cent.
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