Keep kids safe from wild mushrooms

Parents are being urged to check their gardens and backyards for wild mushrooms before letting children play, after recent rainfall has caused a spike in growth of the potentially fatal fungi.

From 1 January to 3 March this year, the NSW Poisons Information Centre received 73 calls regarding mushroom exposures.

Of these 73 calls, 45 were accidental exposures, with more than 80% of accidental exposures occurring in children under five years old.

Wild mushrooms often look similar to those children would be familiar with seeing the supermarket or on their dinner plate but despite their appearance, they are not safe to eat.

If ingested, wild mushrooms can cause serious poisoning, including nausea and vomiting, and can lead to liver and kidney damage, which can be fatal.

Genevieve Adamo, Senior Specialist in Poisons Information at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, said the best way to prevent accidental mushroom exposures in children is to simply remove them.

“Wild mushrooms can pop up overnight, so it is really important parents check their gardens and backyards regularly, particularly after rainfall, and remove and dispose of any mushrooms before letting children out to play,” Ms Adamo said.

“If a child does accidentally ingest a mushroom, even if they aren’t showing symptoms, parents should call the Poisons Information Centre because early treatment is vital.”

In addition to accidental exposures in children, there were also 16 calls regarding adults who ate wild mushrooms as food, and 10 calls regarding cases of mushrooms being ingested for recreational purposes.

Adults are reminded that it is never recommended to pick and eat wild mushrooms. Poisonous mushrooms in Australia can look like edible mushrooms from Europe and Asia and changes in the appearance of mushrooms during the life cycle make it difficult to identify safely.

“Eating wild mushrooms is never worth the risk.”

“Cooking or boiling wild mushrooms also does not make them safe to eat, which is why we strongly advise against foraging for mushrooms and encourage people to only eat store-bought mushrooms,” Ms Adamo said.

Anyone who is exposed to wild mushrooms should call the Poisons Information Centre (13 11 26) immediately. In an emergency, people should call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance, or seek medical treatment through their doctor or local emergency department.