Three members of an East Bay family were hospitalized over the holidays after they ate a highly toxic wild fungus known as the death cap, one of the world's most dangerous mushrooms.Doctors said they expect a full recovery for all three patients.
Two 11-year-old boys from Albany [California] and their 72-year-old grandmother, who was visiting the family from Ithaca, N.Y., became violently ill after eating the mushrooms, which they had harvested along a trail in Mount Tamalpais State Park....
Mushroom poisonings are fairly rare, but experts say it is easy for those without training to mistake an edible species for a deadly one.
Even connoisseurs can be duped by the way a death cap presents itself. The toadstool with white spores is common in the Bay Area, but the color varies and can be affected by weather and odd growing conditions. Its telltale signs are often buried in soil.
Aficionados say the best place to acquire mushrooms for those without training is at the store.
Elbert, a former professor of environmental history, said she was surprised by the effects of the mushrooms she and her family consumed.
"I've been a mushroom hunter all my life," she said....
Doctors initially had difficulty identifying the specific culprit. The boys' mother returned to the site where the mushrooms were picked. An expert with the Mycological Society of San Francisco - which offers mushroom walks and workshops - helped identify the culprit as Amanita phalloides.
"Ithaca does not have aminitas," Elbert said. "They were scattered under the live oaks with many, many other kinds of mushrooms."
Doctors used an arsenal of several different medications to attack the poison, including penicillin and acetylcysteine - but there is no known antidote for this toxin.
Doctors also obtained a waiver from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an organic compound, milk thistle derived silimarin, which was air-freighted to the hospital from Germany.
Link to the source.
Link to the recent fungus fair.