Canberrans in hospital after death cap mushroom scare

Source: Canberra Times

Three people are in a stable condition in Calvary Hospital with possible death cap mushroom poisoning, which they claim was from mushrooms bought at Dickson Woolworths.

The three claim the source of the poisoning was from mushrooms purchased at the store about April 17.

ACT Health has advised people displaying symptoms of stomach aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and who purchased and ate mushrooms from Woolworths in Dickson on or around the same date to seek immediate medical attention.

ACT Health has refused to name the victims, or give any indication as to their age or gender, but confirmed that all three live in the same household.

The three presented to Calvary Hospital over a 48-hour period with similar symptoms.

A Woolworths spokesperson confirmed they are working with ACT Health on the matter, but has said they are not aware of any other incidents involving similar symptoms in that time.

"We take customer safety very seriously and are working closely with our supplier and ACT Health to investigate the claims," she said.

"All our produce is subject to strict government regulated quality and health controls and is regularly monitored by ACT Health."

Just one death cap mushroom contains enough poison to kill an adult.

Symptoms of death cap mushroom poisoning include stomach aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, and generally appear six to 24 hours after ingesting the mushrooms.

There have been four fatalities and 12 reported incidents of poisoning associated with death cap mushrooms in the ACT.

Two Canberrans died and a third was treated in hospital in January 2012 after eating the toxic mushrooms. 

Liu Jun, a chef and Tsou Hsiang, a kitchenhand unwittingly added death cap mushrooms to a stir fry after work at the Harmonie German Club on New Year’s Eve.

It is believed Mr Liu mistook the death cap mushrooms for straw mushrooms, commonly used in Chinese cooking.

He was reportedly passionate about fresh food and had picked the toxic mushrooms in Braddon, while walking to work.

A third man survived having reportedly only eaten a small portion of the dish.

After the fatalities, health authorities urged the public not to pick wild mushrooms, and to always buy them from supermarkets.

ACT Health has advised people displaying symptoms of stomach aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and who purchased and ate mushrooms from Woolworths in Dickson on or around the same date to seek immediate medical attention.

Canberra's history of incidents with Death Cap mushrooms

January 2012: Liu Jun and Tsou Hsiang died after eating Death Cap mushrooms. Mr Liu picked the mushrooms himself, mistaking them for straw mushrooms. A third man  survived.

June 2002: A woman was killed after making soup using mushrooms growing in her backyard. They turned out to be Death Caps.

September 1999: A 46-year-old man died from eating the mushrooms and a further six people were reportedly poisoned.

May 1998: Two Canberrans survived after being poisoned by death cap mushrooms in two unrelated incidents within a fortnight. A seven-year-old girl was poisoned after eating a quarter of one that she found in Watson. Despite consuming a lethal dose, 39-year-old Simon Claringbold from Red Hill also 

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