Summary: The Israel Poison Information Center has issued a warning about the dangers of wild mushroom poisoning, emphasizing that cooking does not neutralize the toxins in poisonous mushrooms. The warning comes as mushroom picking becomes increasingly popular in Israel, with several cases of severe poisoning reported.
The Hidden Dangers of Wild Mushrooms Poisoning
With the arrival of winter rains, mushrooms are emerging in forests and lawns across Israel. While mushroom picking has become a popular activity, the Israel Poison Information Center warns of the risks associated with consuming wild mushrooms. Many of the 70 to 80 species of poisonous mushrooms closely resemble edible varieties, posing a significant danger. The death cap, for instance, contains alpha-amanitin, a toxin that can cause kidney and liver failure, with ingestion of just half a cap potentially leading to death.
The study published in Mycologia by experts at the Israel Poison Information Center and colleagues reveals that only 4% of exposures to poisonous biological substances were caused by mushrooms in the decade ending in 2021. Most cases involved adults over 18 or children under six. The most common mushrooms in poisoning cases in Israel are of the Inocybe genus and the green-spored parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites).
Recently, a woman in her 40s was hospitalized at Rambam Health Care Campus due to severe poisoning from a wild mushroom. This was one of 11 poisoning cases reported since the beginning of December, some involving group poisoning from shared meals. In one case, liver damage occurred, and in previous years, there were life-threatening cases requiring intensive care and complex treatments.
Dr. Yael Luria, director of the Israel Poison Information Center, highlighted that mushroom poisoning can present a variety of symptoms, from nausea and vomiting to multisystem damage. Identifying the fungi is crucial for medical decisions but is a complex issue. The center is assisted by mushroom-identification experts and volunteers for this purpose.
Dr. Luria stressed that cooking does not destroy the toxins found in mushrooms. She advised against picking mushrooms in nature, especially with children, as toddlers tend to taste everything they find. Instead, she recommended enjoying nature’s beauty and purchasing mushrooms from supermarkets for consumption.
The center also emphasized the environmental aspect of nature conservation, noting that uncontrolled harvesting of mushrooms harms the ecological balance and the variety of species.
Source: The Jerusalem Post
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