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Eating Wild Mushrooms Can Kill You

Posted: September 8, 2011

As a result of the very wet weather plaguing our state, New Jersey has experienced a higher growth of mushrooms. Unfortunately, many edible mushrooms have toxic “lookalikes” that are extremely poisonous.

Several New Jersey residents who ate the “lookalike” toxic mushrooms are now hospitalized with serious effects and at the time of this writing, two residents in critical condition may need liver transplants.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) and the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) warn the public to refrain from eating mushrooms they find growing on their lawns or in the wild.

“There is no easy way to tell the difference between poisonous and harmless mushrooms,” NJPIES stated. “In addition, poisonous and non-poisonous can grow side by side. Even experienced mushroom pickers can be fooled at times, so this warning must be taken seriously.”

If you suspect toxic mushrooms have been consumed, do not take a chance or wait until symptoms appear—call the New Jersey Poison Center at 1.800.222.1222 immediately. If any of the mushroom in question remains, retain it in a paper bag (not plastic!) and, if possible, take a digital photograph of it. The poison center will arrange for an expert to identify the mushroom and the center can then provide advice on treatment depending on the mushroom’s identification.