Mushroom poisonings on the rise in 2019: BCCDC
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is warning British Columbians of a rise in wild mushroom poisonings this year.
As of Sept. 30, the BCCDC says authorities received 201 mushroom poisoning calls, just one less report than in all of 2018. Last year, a total of 202 mushroom poisoning calls were received, a significant increase from the 161 calls received in 2017.
With 2019 nearly breaking the recent record for total mushroom poison reports in just nine months, the BCCDC is reminding residents to keep an eye on young children while they are outdoors and to be cautious when foraging or consuming wild mushrooms.
"Approximately two thirds of mushroom related poisoning calls in 2019 involved children under the age of five," said Raymond Li, a pharmacist with Poison Control in a news release Monday.
"It is important to be aware of dangers from consuming unidentified mushrooms, especially death cap mushrooms. We would like to remind mushroom hunters, parents and pet owners to be vigilant as they enjoy city, parks, forests and even their own backyard."
Death cap mushrooms are the most lethal species of mushroom on the planet and are found in many parts of B.C., including Vancouver Island. While death cap mushrooms have been found on the island for years, the number of death caps on the island is on the rise, according to the BCCDC.
"Amanita phalloides, also known as the death cap mushroom, has been increasingly popping up in parts of B.C., including Victoria and South Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley region," said the BCCDC in a news release Monday.
"With increased appearances of death cap mushrooms across B.C. comes increased risk of exposures," said Paul Kroeger, co-founder of the Vancouver Mycological Society. "We urge recreational mushroom hunters to use caution and common sense when foraging wild fungi."
While the number of mushroom calls has continued to rise year-over-year since 2017, no human deaths have been recorded since 2016 when a young Vancouver Island boy died after eating the fungus.
Recently, however, two island dogs have died after reportedly consuming death caps.
Anyone who suspects they may have consumed a death cap or other poisonous mushroom is asked to go to the nearest hospital, keep a sample of the mushroom for testing and call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 1-800-567-8911.