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Boy dies after eating poisonous mushroom during family outing

Last Updated Oct 12, 2016 at 11:40 pm PST

Dangerous Amanita phalloides, commonly known as the death cap iStock

VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – A three-year-old boy who was foraging with his family last week in Victoria has died after eating a poisonous wild mushroom.

Vancouver Island’s health authority says the boy died Tuesday night, days after he was transferred to a hospital in Edmonton for treatment.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Vancouver Island’s chief medical health officer, says the tragedy reinforces how important it is for recreational mushroom hunters to know the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous varieties.

Stanwick says that to an untrained eye it’s easy to mistake a toxic species for an edible one, and those who are unsure should leave the mushrooms in the ground.

Stanwick says the boy’s death reinforces the importance of knowing poisonous mushroom from edible ones, if you get sick, act quickly. “Don’t wait, call 911, go to your emergency department, call the Poison Control Centre — don’t wait because the longer the toxins in your body, the poorer the outcome. So, hopefully, the family wants people to learn from their terrible tragedy.”

It’s believe the boy ate a death cap mushroom, but tests are ongoing to confirm the presence of specific toxins in his system. “People think because things are growing in a downtown urban environment they’re not dangerous. It’s obvious to us now that this mushroom is not only found in the wild but in our downtown neighbourhoods.”

The death cap resembles the popular paddy straw mushroom; it’s mainly white with a yellowish stem, sometimes bulbous at the base, and Stanwick says the boy’s family has urged the authority to educate the public of the risks.