Fall Hobby Can Be Deadly

September 19, 2005

amarita mushrooms

The death Sunday of a man who ate a mushroom he picked should remind the public that only experts should pick and eat wild mushrooms.

“A lot of people go out and pick mushrooms thinking they know their mushrooms and that’s dangerous,” said John G. Benitez, M.D., M.P.H., managing director of the Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center located inside Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong.

“Even the experts can sometimes be fooled. The safest way to enjoy mushrooms is to stick with commercially available ones,” added Prashant Joshi, M.D., medical director of the Western New York Poison Center at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.

The middle-aged, Buffalo-area man had picked and eaten mushrooms before with no trouble. He ate a mushroom Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning he developed nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. His family called the Western New York Poison Center and then he was taken to a local hospital where he was treated.

Ernst Both, a Buffalo-area mycologist, identified the mushroom as Amanita bisporigera, a mushroom known to produce severe and potentially fatal liver failure. There is no known effective treatment after ingesting that type of mushroom. The man was given several types of medications to minimize toxicity but he still developed liver failure.

The man was then transported to Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center to await a liver transplant. He died Sunday when his liver failure worsened and no donor liver could be found in time.

For any type of poisoning emergency or question, call your poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

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Heather Hare
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