3-year-old boy dies after eating 'death cap' mushroom
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Wednesday, October 12, 2016 2:07PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 12, 2016 6:40PM PDT
A three-year-old boy has died in hospital after eating a poisonous mushroom found in downtown Victoria.
Island Health said the youngster was foraging with his family at an unspecified site on Oct. 3 when they spotted the mushrooms growing in a garden.
They took the mushrooms home and served them not knowing they were highly toxic Amanita phalloides, also known as the “death cap” mushroom.
The toddler became ill and was treated at Victoria General Hospital after the deadly toxins were detected in his system. He was later airlifted to a hospital in Edmonton, where he died Tuesday night.
It was initially reported that an adult male had eaten the mushroom, but Island Health confirmed Wednesday it was in fact the young boy.
Officials call it the first recorded death caused by a death cap mushroom in B.C.
“We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the child’s family,” Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer, said in a statement.
Stanwick said it’s very easy to mistake a toxic mushroom for an edible one.
“This tragedy reinforces how important it is for recreational mushroom hunters to know the difference between a poisonous and non-poisonous mushroom. If you aren’t sure, leave it in the ground,” he said.
The mushrooms found by the family have all since been removed from the area, Island Health said, declining to say exactly where that was. It also wouldn't clarify whether any other family members became sick.
In the wake of the boy’s death, his family has urged Island Health to improve public education of the risks of the death cap mushroom, which has a distinctive greenish tinge but otherwise resembles edible mushrooms found in Asia.
The agency says it is now in talks with local municipalities to set up signs warning the public of potential death cap mushrooms near the area where the deadly fungi has been found.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, death caps are believed to have been introduced to the province in the roots of imported hardwood trees planted in the 1960s and 70s.
Symptoms experienced after ingesting a "death cap" mushroom include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, liver failure and kidney failure, which usually appear between six and 24 hours after consumption.
From Island Health in death of 3 yr old: family walking downtown, saw mushrooms growing in garden, took some home, where eaten by toddler.— Andrew Johnson (@CTVNewsAndrew) October 12, 2016
Amanita phalloides, also known as the death cap mushroom, has been spotted in the Vancouver area again. Sept. 1, 2016. (BayAreaMushrooms.org)
A 'death cap,' mushroom is shown in a handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Vancouver Island Health Authority)