Bookmark and Share RSS IconRSS

Feature Stories by Date

Feature Story

Health Center Today, September 17, 2010

Poison Experts Say Beware the Dangers of Wild Mushrooms

By Carolyn Pennington

Photo of a mushroom

The Connecticut Poison Control Center is issuing a warning about the dangers of toxic mushrooms. There are an estimated 5,000 mushroom species in the U.S., many of which are not poisonous, but with some, eating even a few bites can cause fatal liver damage. The most deadly are the Amanitas.

“Toxic mushrooms are commonly mistaken for edible mushrooms, especially by people with mushroom foraging experience from other countries,” says Amy Hanoian-Fontana, a CPCC educator. “Only experts can tell poisonous mushrooms from safe ones. It’s best to stay away from any wild mushrooms.”

When it comes to mushrooms, it’s important to remember these tips:

  • Mushrooms are difficult to identify. Most poisonous mushrooms look like edible mushrooms at some phase of their growth.
  • A good rule of thumb – only eat mushrooms that you can buy in the grocery store!
  • Mushrooms often grow after a rainfall. It is best to inspect your lawn and remove all mushrooms growing in the yard.
  • Cooking does not inactivate the toxins.
  • Severe liver or kidney injuries could result from mushroom toxicity.
  • Delayed symptoms are common. Seek help immediately even if there are no obvious signs of toxicity.

If you think you may have eaten a poisonous mushroom, call the Poison Center’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-800-222-1222. You will receive immediate, free and confidential treatment advice from the poison experts.