Poisonous mushrooms sprout across Victoria

·1-min read

Victorians are being urged not to gather wild mushrooms, as two poisonous varieties have started growing across the state.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Angie Bone on Tuesday warned the recent wet weather has created ideal conditions for death cap and yellow staining mushrooms to flourish in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

"While commercially-sold mushrooms are safe, poisonings can occur when people gathering wild mushrooms inadvertently include toxic species," she said.

"Poisonous mushrooms may appear very similar to edible varieties."

Death cap mushrooms, which are often mistaken for button or field mushrooms, can kill a person within 48 hours if they are eaten.

They are responsible for about 90 per cent of all mushroom poisoning deaths.

Symptoms usually start with abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, before liver failure sets in.

"Death can follow within 48 hours from serious liver damage," Dr Bone said.

"If you have any doubts about a species of fungus or mushroom, don't eat it. Cooking, peeling or drying these mushrooms does not remove or inactivate the poison."

The commonly found yellow staining mushroom turns yellow when the cap or stem is bruised by a thumbnail.

It can also cause an upset stomach, headache, dizziness, drowsiness and sweating.

Dr Bone said the combination of coronavirus and an ideal growing season saw a record number of mushroom poisoning incidents in 2020.

Last year there were 426 calls about potential mushroom poisoning to Victoria's Poisons Information Centre, more than double the number of calls in the previous two years.

There were multiple poisoning cases requiring admission and treatment in intensive care.

Dr Bone said anyone who becomes ill after eating mushrooms should seek urgent medical advice and, if possible, take samples of the whole mushroom for identification.