B.C. warns of death cap mushrooms on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland

B.C. warns of death cap mushrooms on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland

With poisonous, death cap mushrooms popping up earlier than normal in cities on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, provincial health officials are warning people to be careful.

The toxic death cap, or Amanita phalloides, mushrooms can cause liver and kidney damage and even death to both people and pets.

The warning from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health, and Provincial Health Services authority on Friday follows a similar warning from the District of Oak Bay after the dangerous mushrooms were found in the in municipality late last month.

Death caps have a number of toxins, including amatoxin — which is not killed by cooking — and just one mushroom can kill an adult.

In 2016, a three-year-old Victoria boy died after eating one foraged in downtown Victoria.

Health officials say a child on the Lower Mainland recently consumed part of a death cap mushroom, but received medical attention and fortunately survived as it was a very small portion.

The potentially deadly mushrooms can be found on Vancouver Island, including recently in Comox and the Greater Victoria region, as well as the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, and are most often found in urban environments.

The mushrooms, which are pale and yellowish in colour, with a large cap and skirting underneath, usually appear during the wetter fall months but can appear in summer, especially in areas that are watered regularly.

Health officials say there are some mushrooms that look very similar to death caps, which is why it is important to only eat mushrooms if you are completely certain what variety they are, or to buy mushrooms from a trusted source.

If you find death cap mushrooms, remove the whole mushroom, bag them, and dispose of them in the garbage.

If ingested, save the remains and immediately call poison control.

Symptoms of death cap poisoning in the first six to 12 hours usually include cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

You may feel better after 24 hours, but the toxins continue to damage vital organs, resulting in severe illness and organ failure.

If you suspect mushroom poisoning, call poison control immediately at 1-800-567-8911.

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