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 were managed by the medical experts at the NJ 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, MD, NJ Poison Control Center Executive and Medical Director, Rutgers NJ 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 NJ Poison Control
Date range: July 1 – August 13, 2018
Number: 45 exposures (38 human, 7 animal/pet)
Age of patients: 9 months to 70 years old
NJ Counties: Exposures reported in 15 of 21 counties
Seen in hospital emergency rooms: 13 patients

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While there have exposures in 15 counties, there have been no reported incidents in Bergen County.

“There are no reported cases of mushroom poisonings within in our health jurisdiction among 34 Bergen County municipalities," said Karen Wolujewicz, Bergen County Department of Health Services Assistant Health Officer. "The Health Department monitors disease surveillance systems to identify and investigate any reports of food poisoning. All  residents should avoid eating wild mushrooms growing in their garden, lawn, or in the wild. It is difficult to tell the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms."

There have been no reported cases in Hasbrouck Heights,  which is not one of the 34 municipalities covered by the Bergen County Department of Health, according to Laura French, Board of Health Secretary and Registrar Laura French. 

Adults are not the only one’s enticed by wild mushrooms; children and pets are often intrigued by mushroom patches growing in backyards. NJ 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 NJ Poison Control 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. Our help is free and available 24/7 to NJ 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. 

Poison Control Centers are resource in the event of an emergency, but experts are also available to answer questions or concerns 24/7.