Two dead after eating mushroom

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TWO people have died in Australia after eating one of the world's most poisonous mushrooms — the death cap.

Four Asian tourists were hospitalised after eating the mushrooms at a New Year's Eve party in Canberra.

It is thought they confused them with straw mushrooms which are popular in Chinese cooking.

One, a man aged in his 30s, was treated and discharged from Canberra Hospital yesterday, while the other three were flown to Sydney.

A spokesman for the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney confirmed that two patients had died overnight after consuming the toxic species of fungi.

The hospital spokesman said today: "I can confirm two people did pass away overnight and a third person is still receiving treatment."

The spokesman would not reveal the condition of the third patient nor did he reveal the ages or genders of those who had died.

Eating the toxic mushrooms initially results in vomiting and diarrhoea, which in time is followed by more severe diarrhoea and vomiting, and jaundice.

In severe cases the poisoning can result in liver failure — and it is thought the dead were waiting for a liver transplant.

The entire death cap mushroom is considered poisonous and eating just one can be fatal.

Michael Hall, director of Canberra Hospital's emergency department, said: "The mushroom looks very similar to a mushroom known as the Paddy Straw mushroom which is common in Southeast Asia and is a delicacy and people eat it regularly as a source of food."

Recent heavy rain in the Canberra region have seen the mushrooms, an introduced species, sprout ahead of their normal season.

Three people have died in Australia over the last decade due to death cap mushroom poisoning and about a dozen have fallen ill.

The fungi is believed to be responsible for the majority of human deaths from mushroom poisioning including that of Roman Emperor Claudius and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI.


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