California Department of Public Health encourages caution around wild mushrooms

(Courtesy California Department of Public Health)

In the wake of recent wet weather, Dr. Karen Smith, the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), is reminding Californians that picking and consuming wild mushrooms may not be a good idea unless you’re an expert.

“It is difficult to distinguish between wild mushrooms that are poisonous and those which are safe to eat,” said Dr. Smith. “Wild mushrooms should not be eaten unless they have been carefully examined and determined to be edible by a mushroom expert.”

According to data collected by CDPH, 679 cases of people ingesting mushrooms and subsequently becoming ill were reported between Nov. 2015 to Oct. 2016.

Of these 415 were treated at a hospital or other health care facility. Eight were admitted to intensive care, and three suffered a major health problem as a result, such as a coma or kidney failure.

Out of the 679 cases, 348 were children under the age of six, who found mushrooms in yards or parks.

The most dangerous mushroom linked to human illness and fatalities is the death cap mushroom. While it grows year round in California, it’s most frequently found fall, winter and spring.

Anyone who eats a mysterious mushroom and then experiences pain or nausea should call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

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