Aussie mum and daughter poisoned after eating backyard mushrooms

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·News Reporter
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A South Australian woman and her 12-year-old daughter were rushed to hospital after eating toxic home-grown mushrooms, amid growing concerns over fungi poisoning in Australia.

Alice Both was excited when "white, button-like mushrooms" appeared in her veggie patch, so she decided to cook them up and eat them with her meal.

Although cautious, Ms Both said they "tasted fine", but it wasn't until the next morning that she realised they were deadly.

South Australian woman Alice Both (right) with her daughter wearing masks
The mum and daughter from South Australia ate mushrooms from their backyard veggie patch and became very ill. Source: Seven News

"I was dizzy, I felt like I was fading away at that point. I felt very unwell, I had a fever," Ms Both told The Advertiser, detailing her gastro-like symptoms.

Luckily, her daughter only had "one small piece" to taste, so her symptoms were mild in comparison, but they both found themselves in the emergency department.

Increase of mushroom-related emergency calls

Ms Both said she used an app to identify the mushroom when she first noticed symptoms.

But relying on apps to distinguish between poisonous mushrooms and edible varieties could risk fatal consequences, said Victorian deputy chief health officer Angie Bone.

"Consuming just a single death cap mushroom can result in liver failure and death, so if you are not an expert and absolutely certain of the species of mushroom, do not pick it or eat it," Dr Bone said.

"We have heard from the Victorian Poisons Information Centre that some of the recent poisonings have been related to people using apps to try to tell the difference between an edible and a toxic mushroom."

This year there have been 24 cases of wild mushroom poisoning this year in SA, of those nine have been hospitalised including three children under five, according to Seven News.

And since April, 60 people have made mushroom-related calls to Victoria's poison information centre, according to the Australian Associated Press and a further 24 calls in Adelaide since January.

Yellow-stainer mushrooms (left) and death cap mushrooms (right)
Yellow-stainer mushrooms (left) and death cap mushrooms (right) are potentially deadly when eaten. Source: AAP

Late last month, a young child was taken to hospital in Canberra after consuming a poisonous death cap mushroom, which can be easily confused with edible mushrooms.

"All parts of the mushroom are poisonous whether they have been cooked or not," said Canberra's chief health officer Kerryn Coleman.

More mushrooms than usual: 'Perfect conditions to grow'

The cooler weather and wetter than usual conditions have caused mushroom varieties to pop up in abundance in southern regions, including Canberra and South Australia.

Chief Botanist at Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden Dr Brett Summerell told Yahoo News Australia that the cooler season provides the perfect conditions for mushrooms to grow; not too hot to dry out and die and not too cold.

Southern Australia has had "a few wetter years and a fairly mild summer", Dr Teresa Lebel, Senior Botanist at Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia told Yahoo News Australia.

"This means we're seeing mushrooms fruiting at slightly different times of the year and longer in some places," she said.

Other parts of the country including northern NSW and southern QLD however have experienced too much rain for mushrooms to flourish.

"They don’t like waterlogged soils any more than plants or we do," she explained.

Poisonous mushroom 'Lepiota brunneoincarnata'
The deadly dapperling mushroom is poisonous for both animals and humans. Source: Getty

Deadly fungi to look out for

Some potentially deadly mushrooms to be wary of include the poisonous yellow-stainer (Agaricus xanthodermus) and the deadly dapperling (Lepiota brunneoincarnata).

"These mushrooms can be a poisoning risk for dogs, cats, horses and cattle as well as humans," Dr Lebel said.

However, Dr Lebel explained each state or territory in Australia has different toxic mushrooms to be aware of, which makes identifying mushrooms that have been ingested, "quite difficult at times".

"Also, different species of mushrooms have different toxins, that act in different ways," she said.

"The most common, and least toxic, is basically a gastrointestinal irritant – your body just wants to get rid of whatever you’ve eaten."

Dr Summerell told Nine News he's seen a lot of amanita muscaria – commonly known as the fly agaric or fly amanita – around Melbourne lately, and lots in Canberra too.

They're usually found along the east coast of Australia, including Tasmania, in South Australia, particularly in the Adelaide Hills, and in the southwestern corner of Western Australia.

But as pretty as colourful red and white fungi may be, "they can be pretty nasty".

"They are poisonous, so if people eat them, or god forbid a kid eats them, they can get quite sick from them," Dr Summerell said.
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