A major problem is the difficulty in identifying mushroom species. This is impossible for poison center staff who must manage these situations over the phone. In addition, very few individuals (mycologists) who are properly trained to identify wild mushrooms exist. Unfortunately, this requires that any child who eats a wild mushroom be treated. In addition to children, dogs often eat wild mushrooms, leading to serious poisoning. Most often treatment can be performed in the home under the supervision of trained poison center staff. If the poison center is not immediately contacted, resulting in a significant delay, or if a substantial number of mushrooms are eaten or any symptoms occur, these individuals must be referred to a hospital emergency department.
Besides children who eat unknown wild mushrooms, adults are also occasional victims of poisonous mushrooms. In these cases, the victim, who was attempting to identify edible species, has mistakenly picked poisonous mushrooms. These cases are much more likely to be serious as the victim may eat these poisonous mushrooms in large quantity and may not seek medical attention until severe illness has occurred.
To prevent mushroom poisoning :
"There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters!"
Mushrooms can be poisonous in many different ways. Members of the Gyromitra family, such as the false morel, contain a substance, which may cause vomiting, abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. More serious signs may include seizures, coma and death. Other mushrooms, such as Psilocybe species, contain a hallucinogen. People who have accidentally eaten these mushrooms had suffered vivid hallucinations that may be pleasant or terrifying. The most poisonous mushrooms are members of the Amanita, which are responsible for most of the mushroom-related deaths that occur each year. These mushrooms contain a substance that causes liver damage. They are so poisonous that it is estimated that one mushroom cap from an Amanita can kill a man. Tragically, these mushrooms do not produce symptoms until many hours after they are eaten. By that time, treatment is usually of little value. In addition, mushrooms may also cause illness because they are spoiled. Eating spoiled mushrooms will cause illness similar to other types of food poisoning.
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