Mushroom season: Risk of poisoning from self-collected mushrooms

Risk of poisoning in the mushroom season: Not all mushrooms are edible
September and October are considered the main season for mushrooms in Germany, but some species can be found much earlier. Many Germans are therefore drawn to meadows and forests to collect tasty mushrooms there. Experts caution here: mix-ups always lead to fungal poisoning. Partly fatal.

Many types of mushrooms can harm your health
Due to the weather, Germany's forests could become a real paradise for mushroom pickers this year. Many Germans love to roam through meadows and forests and bring delicious mushrooms home with them. At least 2,000 different types can be distinguished. Health minister Melanie Huml warned last year that there are around 100 species in Bavaria alone that can harm health.

The University Medical Center Freiburg now reports in a press release that no one knows exactly how many of the over 600 species that are represented in the Black Forest around Freiburg are actually edible. The existing knowledge comes mainly from cases of poisoning.

Risk of confusion with toadstools
Numerous toadstools look confusingly similar to edible mushrooms. Most types of mushrooms are indistinguishable for the layperson. "It is therefore not enough to go into the forest with the mushroom book," said Dr. Uwe Stedtler, deputy head of the poisoning information center at the University Medical Center Freiburg, “because the appearance of the mushrooms can be very different if you don't know exactly which characteristics to look out for.”

Several deaths each year
In Baden-Württemberg alone, two to three people die of fungal poisoning each year. If in doubt, collectors should inquire with mushroom trainers or experts and keep their hands off the unknown mushrooms. To be on the safe side, you can also use home-grown mushrooms from your own garden. Although this is not yet particularly widespread in Germany, various edible mushrooms can be cultivated in the home garden.

Deadly poisoning from tuberous agarics
As the communication says, the tuber agaric, which grows from August to October, is one of the most poisonous mushrooms in Europe. Almost 95 percent of all fatal poisoning with poisoning is caused by this fungus. Even small amounts are life-threatening. "Fellow citizens who have moved to Germany from other countries, especially from Eastern Europe, are particularly at risk because mushrooms from the old homeland seem to resemble the local tuberous agaric," explained Dr. Stedtler.

This is also shown by a case from Münster. Last fall, a 16-year-old refugee from Syria died there who accidentally consumed tuber agarics.

Poisoning is usually due to amatoxin, a toxic protein that is found in some mushrooms. This cannot be made ineffective by cooking or drying.

Signs of poisoning can also appear after days
Fungus poisoning can cause gastrointestinal complaints, among other things, but can also lead to liver and kidney failure. Fungus poisoning is often more severe in children than in adults. However, there are hardly any clear symptoms of poisoning. According to the experts, mild mushroom poisoning, which is not life-threatening, can occur between 15 minutes and four hours after eating the mushrooms and last for several days.

With severe and life-threatening poisoning, however, the first signs can be delayed for days. "Often the symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain or hallucinations and bleeding from the urine are no longer associated with mushroom consumption," said Dr. Stedtler.

If there are signs of poisoning, see a doctor quickly
If you can see the first signs of poisoning, you should go to the doctor or the hospital as soon as possible. If there are still remains of the mushrooms, you should take them with you to identify them. “The determination is important to assess the toxicity. And the more precisely the fungus can be described, the more precise the required treatment can then be, ”said Dr. Uwe Stedtler. If poisoning is treated in a timely manner, most cases can heal without permanent damage.

Emergency tips
If there is suspicion of fungal poisoning, you can also contact the poison emergency call of the federal state concerned. The university's communication provides general tips for emergencies: it is important to keep calm and not to take any hasty measures. For example, those affected should not be given salt water or milk and should not be vomited.

ABC measures should be used for severe symptoms such as loss of consciousness and shortness of breath. Call an emergency doctor at 112 or 110. Call a poison information center. The best way to do this is to have all the information you need about the person concerned. Give the victim of poisoning a few sips to drink (water, tea or juice, but no milk). (ad)

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