Death cap mushrooms have been grown in Canberra after recent rains. Each mushroom contains enough poison “to kill a healthy adult.”
Victoria issued a warning in March about the growth of the mushrooms in the state – and the Australian Capital Territory health department has since extended the warning to Canberra and surrounds.
“They often grow near established oak trees and can be found when there is wet weather,” read a statement from ACT.
“Anyone who thinks they may have eaten a death cap mushroom should go straight to the nearest Emergency Department. Do not wait for symptoms to appear – the sooner you get treatment, the better your chance of survival.”
Four deaths and a dozen incidents of poisoning from the mushrooms have been recored in ACT since 2002. Symptoms occur after six to 24 hours after ingestion – and have been known to subside for a couple of days, but should not be ignored.
“The first symptoms are stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea. These may continue for a day or two, after which there is typically an easing of symptoms and apparent recovery,” said the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
“The ‘recovery’ period may last for two or three days. Then the terminal phase of three to five days starts with the recurrence of stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea – accompanied by jaundice.
“Without effective, early medical intervention, coma and death occur between one and two weeks after eating the mushroom. Death is caused by liver failure, often accompanied by kidney failure.”
Acting ACT chief health officer Kerryn Coleman forewarned residents earlier this year.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Death cap mushrooms are not native to Australia and originated in Europe. They are relatively common in Tasmania, too. In 2014, a Canberra women reportedly sued Woolworths. The supermarket allegedly sold her mushrooms with traces of the death cap fungus.