WITH THE damp and cooler weather, fungi can, once again, be seen emerging from the ground in nearby parks and bushland.
While freshly picked, wild mushrooms are a delicious treat, Victorians are being warned not to trust apps that claim to identify poisonous mushrooms.
The cool and wet weather conditions make it a perfect growing season for Death Cap mushrooms and Yellow-staining mushrooms.
Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Angie Bone, urges people not to pick wild mushrooms in Melbourne and regional Victoria.
“While commercially sold mushrooms are safe to consume, it can be very difficult to distinguish between toxic and edible varieties of wild mushroom.
“There is a serious risk of misidentification when using mushroom-identifying apps, and there can be major consequences to your health of getting it wrong,” Dr Bone said.
Recent rain has been ideal for poisonous mushroom species to sprout in regional and metropolitan Victoria, and it’s important to avoid them.
The most dangerous variety is the Death Cap, which is found near deciduous trees such as oaks in Melbourne suburbs and rural areas.
Death Cap is a large mushroom with a greenish or yellowish cap and white gills and has a cup-shaped sac around the base of the stem.
Symptoms of poisoning by Death Cap can include stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea within hours of consumption, but organ failure can also occur 24–48 hours after ingestion.
“Consuming just a single Death Cap mushroom can result in liver failure and death, so if you are not an expert and certain of the species of mushroom, do not pick it or eat it,” she said.
The Yellow-staining mushroom turns yellow when a thumbnail bruises the cap or stem.
Symptoms experienced after consumption include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Dr Bone said anyone who becomes ill after eating mushrooms should seek urgent medical advice and, if possible, take samples of the whole mushroom for identification.
She said wild mushrooms ingested by pets can cause illness, ranging from gastroenteritis to severe life-threatening disease and death.
Parents and pet owners should be aware of mushrooms in gardens and parks frequented by children and domestic animals.
If you suspect you have consumed poisonous wild mushrooms, do not wait for symptoms to occur; seek medical attention immediately.
Contact the Victorian Poisons Information Centre immediately on 13 11 26 (24 hours a day, seven days a week, Australia wide).
If your pet has ingested a wild mushroom, you can call the free Animal Poisons Centre on 1300 869 738 for advice.