NJ Poison Center Sees a Spike in Mushroom Poisoning – Don’t be the Next Case
Diane P. Calello, MD, Executive and Medical Director
Bruce Ruck, Pharm.D., Director, Drug Information and Professional Education
New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES)
(Newark, NJ) – August 3, 2017 Warning: Never eat wild mushrooms whether growing in your garden, on your lawn or in the wild!
15 cases since July 24, 2017
Ages of patients: 15 months to 75 years old
Several of these cases have resulted in hospitalizations with potentially life-threatening consequences. No matter the scenario, picking wild mushrooms is dangerous and risky.
Many edible mushrooms have toxic “look-a-likes.” Eating even a few bites of certain mushrooms can cause severe illness. Some symptoms of mushroom poisoning include intense vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration, damage to vital organs like the liver and even death.
“Picking and eating wild mushrooms can be a dangerous game”, says Dr. Diane Calello, Medical Director of the NJ Poison Center, Rutgers NJ Medical School. “Even those who think they can identify a toxic mushroom can be fooled”.
Experienced mushroom pickers are even wrong sometimes, so we urge you to take this warning seriously. Online mushroom identification sites can be falsely reassuring. Parents must teach their children to never put wild plants, berries, nuts, or mushrooms into their mouths. Remember, your family pets are highly susceptible to mushroom poisoning as well.
If an exposure should occur, do not take a chance by waiting until symptoms appear or wasting time looking up information on the Internet. Time is of the essence especially when it comes to mushroom poisoning. If someone is unconscious, not breathing, seizing, difficult to wake up, etc. call 9-1-1 immediately, otherwise call the NJ Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Calling the poison center is always the fastest way to get the medical help or information you need. The poison center will arrange for an expert to identify the mushroom and the center can then provide advice on management depending on the mushroom’s identification.
- Remove any remaining parts of the mushroom from the victim’s mouth and place those fragments and all mushrooms that are in the immediate vicinity of the incident into one or more paper bags (NOT plastic!).
- Take a digital photograph of the mushroom(s) in question. It helps to take a picture of the mushroom next to other objects such as a coin, ruler, etc. to provide a sense of scale.
Call to action: Be prepared for any emergency – keep the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) handy by saving it as a contact in your phone.
Help is Just a Phone Call Away!