The New South Wales’ Poisons Information Centre has called on the ACT community to avoid eating wild mushrooms after a significant spike in exposures to the potentially deadly fungi.
Senior Specialist in Poisons Information at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, Genevieve Adamo said that between February and May, the Centre, which takes calls from ACT, NSW and Tasmania, recorded a 37 per cent increase in mushroom-related problems compared to the same period last year.
“The biggest spikes occurred in the ACT, with calls more than doubling, increasing from 21 to 43,” Ms Adamo said.
“Calls in NSW did not increase, but are still of concern with 152 calls recorded,” she said.
“If ingested, poisonous mushrooms can cause severe abdominal pains, vomiting, diarrhoea, hallucinations and in severe cases, death.”
Ms Adamo said the figures were alarming and highlighted a potentially fatal issue in the community.
She said the Centre was worried about the number of people, particularly adults, who were ingesting wild mushrooms and urged people to heed the warning that mushrooms found in the wild were not safe to eat.
“Of the calls received, 45 per cent were about adults (20 – 74 years old) who had ingested mushrooms, with the other primary age group being small children (0 – 4 years old), who accounted for 40 per cent of calls,” she said.
“From this, 160 people were hospitalised.”
Ms Adamo said there were many mushroom species in the wild including the Death Cap mushroom, which could cause serious poisoning if eaten, and lead to potentially fatal organ damage.
She said anyone who had ingested wild mushrooms should immediately contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.