The Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that there were 14 death cap poisoning cases last December after an unusually large bloom of the fungus. Three of these patients needed a liver transplant, including an 18-month-old girl who also had brain damage.

Death cap is one of the most dangerous mushrooms in the world. Therefore, an increase of these mushrooms can rise the threats of poisoning among people. Most of these new incidents happened in the greater San Francisco Bay area. Consumption of death caps causes most of the mushroom-related poisonings.

Death cap is one of the most dangerous mushrooms in the world. Image credit: Alamy / Huffpost
Death cap is one of the most dangerous mushrooms in the world. Image credit: Alamy / Huffpost

The 18-month old girl is the most affected by the Death Cap

Death cap or “amanita phalloides” recently produced the poisoning of 14 people in the United States. The first person to be affected was a 37-year old man who collected two wild mushrooms from the mountain. He cooked them and started feeling nauseated soon after. He also vomited and had diarrhea, and about 21 hours after he consumed the mushrooms he began feeling abdominal discomfort.

He went to the hospital and doctors identified the mushroom he picked. He was quickly treated to avoid dehydration, and he was discharged six days later.

An entire family was also affected. They were having dinner, but they mistook the death cap for a harmless mushroom. They got the mushroom from a stranger earlier that day. A 26-year old woman cooked the mushrooms, and she served them for the her 28-year old husband, her 38-year old sister, her 49-year old female friend, and her 18-month old daughter. All of them suffered from the same symptoms that the 37-year old man had about 10 hours after the ingestion, but they also had liver damages.

They went to the hospital two days after consuming the mushrooms. They all recovered, but sadly, the 18-year-old and her aunt suffered irreversible hepatic liver failure and had a liver transplant. After that surgical procedure, the aunt recovered, but the toxins of the mushroom also produced permanent brain damage in the little girl. Other 8 cases of death cap poisoning were reported soon after – one of them also received a liver transplant -, including the incident of four main with ages ranging between 19 and 22 who thought they were eating psychedelic mushrooms but they end up eating deadly ones. As well, a 93-year old woman and an 86-year old were affected after eating the mushrooms that their friend picked in the forest.

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Most of these cases occurred in the San Francisco Bay area by December 2016. 13 of patients already recovered, except for the 18-months old girl, who had permanent damage and was hospitalized for more than 30 days. Apparently, this outbreak was caused by the increase of the death caps in the area, after an abundant rainfall that was followed by a hot weather last November. The report of these incidents was included in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Death cap is the most dangerous mushroom, and it can be easily confused

Death cap is the deadliest mushroom in the world. It is responsible for about 90 percent of mushroom-related poisonings, according to the CDC. It produces a toxin that is poisonous to the human body once the gastrointestinal tract absorbs it and starts killing healthy cells. These mushroom usually bloom in the fall and humid mountains. However, according to the CDC only a few cases a reported each year.

Consuming a death cap always produces dehydration. Additionally, it produces diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and cramping. If the poisoning is not treated, it can lead to hypotension, hypoglycemia, tachycardia, and cardiac arrest.  It can also affect several organs such as the liver and the pancreas. However, the symptoms can be deceiving because patients might be discharged from the hospital once their condition has improved, but they can develop problems in the liver later.

These mushrooms can easily be confused by a non-poisonous fungus. They look alike edible species that also grow in the California- where about 676 cases of Death Cap poisonings have been identified between November 2015 and October 2016- and they don’t have a particular smell.  As well, people say that the death cap is actually delicious. They have spread to every continent except for Antarctica.

“These mushrooms are large, beautiful, delicious and deadly, with toxins that are not destroyed by cooking,” stated the North American Mycological.

Due to that, the CDC recommends people not to consume mushrooms they pick from the wild unless they have been identified by a professional.

“Inexperienced foragers should be strongly discouraged from eating any wild mushrooms,” the report notes.

Currently, there is not an approved antidote for the mushroom poisoning in the U.S. Scientists are conducting trials for a possible remedy. In Europe, the approved antidote for this is intravenous silibinin

Source: Los Angeles Times