2 dead in Australia after eating toxic Death Cap mushrooms


A highly poisonous mushroom called a Death Cap pictured in a forest near Schlachtensee Lake in Berlin, Germany on August 15, 2011. Two people died in Australia after eating the mushrooms, which also grow wild there.


Sean Gallup

Two people have died after eating poisonous Death Cap mushrooms at a New Year's Eve dinner party in Australia.

The two people were among a group of four hospitalized after eating the toxic mushrooms — which can cause liver and kidney failure — in the capital, Canberra.

One person has been discharged from hospital but the other three were transferred to Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where two later died waiting for liver transplants, according the Australia's ABC News.

Agence France-Presse, meantime, reported that:

It is believed that the deadly poisonous mushrooms were mistaken for an edible fungi known as the Paddy Straw mushroom, which is commonly found in Southeast Asia and considered a delicacy.

All parts of the Death Cap mushroom are poisonous and eating just one of the silky white-to-greenish-brown capped, white-gilled fungi can be fatal.

The Death Cap mushroom can be found in many Canberra suburbs, usually near oak trees, according to the Australian National Botanic Gardens, cited by the BBC.

The ABC quoted Tasmanian food writer Graeme Phillips as saying that more information about the dangers of toxic mushrooms must be made available.

He pointed to the example of Europe, where advice is available at pharmacies.

"[They show] this mushroom's deadly, that mushroom's poisonous, will it make you sick, this one's poisonous till you cook it," he reportedly said. "So, you come home with your basket full of wild mushrooms, you sit down and you spend the next hour sort of comparing them to these charts and tossing away those that you're not sure of.

"Here, the only people that really know what they're doing are the migrants from Europe, eastern Europe and so on, I don't know of any published guides to the toxicology of Australia's fungi."

Other than organ failure, the mushrooms can cause stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhoea and jaundice.