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News release sent today:

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), today reminded Californians that collecting and eating wild mushrooms can cause serious illness and even death.

In California, eating wild mushrooms has caused multiple illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. According to the California Poison Control System (CPCS), 894 cases of mushroom ingestion were reported statewide in 2008. Among those cases:

• 499 were children under six years of age and usually involved eating a small amount of a mushroom the child found growing in a backyard;
• 358 individuals were treated at a health care facility;
• 72 had a moderate health effect, such as diarrhea severe enough to require intravenous fluids;
• 17 were admitted to the intensive care unit;
• Five had a major health outcome, such as liver failure leading to coma, liver transplant or renal failure requiring dialysis;
• One died.

The deaths have been linked to the varieties Amanita ocreata, or “destroying angel,” and Amanita phalloides, or “death cap.” These mushrooms grow in some parts of California year-round, but are most commonly found during fall, late winter or spring.

Eating poisonous mushrooms can cause abdominal pain, cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage and death. Individuals who develop any of these symptoms after eating wild mushrooms should seek medical attention. Individuals with symptoms, or their treating health care providers, should immediately contact CPCS at 1-800-222-1222.

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