NEWARK, NJ — A good portion of the summer has been plagued by soaring temperatures, high humidity and soaking rains — the perfect recipe for a dangerous mushroom season in the Garden State.
So far, 45 mushroom exposure cases have been managed by tmedical experts at the New Jersey Poison Control Center since the beginning of July, the agency announced in a press release. Some of these cases have resulted in emergency room visits. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning include intense vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration, damage to vital organs like the liver and even death.
“Picking and eating mushrooms growing in gardens, on lawns, in fields or in the woods is a dangerous game,” says Diane Calello, M.D., the center's executive and medical director and a member of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “Even experienced mushroom pickers are fooled by toxic look-a-likes at times.”
Here's a brief snapshot from N.J. Poison Control
Date range: July 1–August 13
Number: 45 exposures (38 human, 7 animal/pet)
Age of patients: 9 months to 70 years old
Counties: Exposures reported in 15 of 21 counties
Seen in hospital emergency rooms: 13 patients
While there have exposures in 15 counties, at least one has been reported in Monmouth County, although the exact location was not disclosed.
Adults are not the only one’s enticed by wild mushrooms; children and pets are often intrigued by mushroom patches growing in backyards. N.J. Poison Control advises adults to always supervise children and pets outdoors. Pets can suffer serious health injuries and even death from eating wild mushrooms.
The center offers the following tips for potential mushroom exposures:
• Time is of the essence when it comes to mushroom poisoning. Do not wait for symptoms to appear or spend time searching the internet for next steps.
• Call the Poison Control Center’s Poison Help line, 1-800-222-1222, immediately to get the medical help or information you need. This free service is available 24/7 to New Jersey residents. The Poison Center may arrange for an expert to identify the mushroom.
• Remove any remaining parts of the mushroom from the person’s mouth and place those fragments and all mushrooms that are in the immediate vicinity of the incident into one or more paper bags (not plastic).
• Take a digital photograph of the mushroom(s) in question. It helps to take a picture of the mushroom next to other objects such as a coin, ruler, etc., to provide a sense of scale.