January 27, 2023

Warning For Mushroom Foragers in Ohio: Be Careful

A warning for mushrooms foragers in Ohio and elsewhere: be careful about what you  pick and eat. Unless you really know what you are doing and are very experienced, eating wild mushrooms can have catastrophic consequences.

Warning For Mushroom Foragers in Ohio: Be Careful

About 250 species of wild mushrooms that grow in North America are poisonous, according to the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. And some look very much like mushrooms that are safe to eat. Even buying wild mushrooms from farmers markets and street vendors can be risky. And even experts can be fooled.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that about 1328 emergency department visits and 100 hospitalizations were associated with accidental poisonous mushroom ingestion in 2016. During the time period of 2016 to 2018, 8.6% of patients who sought care for poisonous mushroom ingestions had a serious adverse outcome, including liver failure, renal failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and respiratory failure.

In Ohio, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital warned consumers on Twitter that they had had several patents who were poisoned by eating wild mushrooms that were foraged in the southwest part of the state. And in Cleveland, there has been an increase in mushroom poisoning this fall.

Most mushroom foragers pick mushrooms in the late summer and fall. They grow in spurts, especially after a rainy period.

Some poisonous wild mushrooms include Death caps, which can look like straw and gypsy mushrooms. Destroying Angels can look like meadow, horse, and button mushrooms. And even phone apps can mistake poisonous mushrooms for those that are safe to eat.

Symptoms of toxic mushroom poisoning, which usually occur six to 24 hours after ingestion, include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, blood in the urine, hallucinations, and seizures, and can result in kidney failure, liver failure, coma, and death. The severity depends on body size, the type of mushroom, and the amount of the mushrooms consumed. And cooking, freezing, and drying mushrooms does not destroy these toxins.

To be absolutely safe, only buy commercially grown mushrooms. If you want to forage for mushrooms, take along someone who is very experienced. And know the symptoms of mushroom poisoning so you can get help quickly if necessary.

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