May 26, 2024

Deadly Dave’s Sushi Morel Mushroom Outbreak Ends With 51 Sick

The deadly Dave’s Sushi morel mushrooms outbreak has ended with 51 people sick, according to the FDA, although the Gallatin City-County Health Department and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services are conducting follow-up activities. The FDA said that there does not appear to be any further risk to the public. That is an increase of one more patient since the last update on May 18, 2023.

Deadly Dave's Sushi Morel Mushroom Outbreak Ends With 51 Sick

There were two deaths in this outbreak. Toxicology reports and autopsy reports have not been released. Three people were hospitalized because they were so sick. The last illness onset date was April 21, 2023. Symptoms included abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and/or vomiting.

The mushrooms sampled from the restaurant were true morels, not “false morels,” which are toxic. False morels can contain a toxin called gyromitrin that causes illness and can be fatal in small amounts.

Two epidemiological studies were conducted in this outbreak. One study was on the customers and the other on the employees. The customer study found that cultivated morel mushrooms eaten at the restaurant were the likely source of this outbreak. For the study among the employees, a relationship was observed between employees who ate a larger amount of morel mushrooms and illness, although the sample size was small, which limits conclusions. Samples of the mushrooms were screened for pesticides, heavy metals, toxins, and pathogens. No significant findings were identified.

The mushrooms were served during March and April 2023. They were prepared raw or lightly cooked. Traceback was conducted on the mushrooms received by that restaurant and the FDA found other restaurants that got morel mushrooms from the same importer. No significant findings or reports of illness were associated with the morels served by those other restaurants.

The FDA issued an advisory about morel mushrooms after this outbreak. Anyone who gathers wild mushrooms must be very careful about what they eat. False morels look very much like the real thing, and even true morels can contain toxins that are not well understood. Cooking real morel mushrooms thoroughly can reduce the toxin levels.

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