Mushroom Toxicity

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Several decades ago, two patients arrived in my emergency department with intense vomiting, bronchorrhea, and seizure-like activity. Their symptoms started about 30 minutes after consuming a mushroom stew. The wife considered herself to be an expert in mushroom identification and had picked several species of mushrooms, including a few very large ones with bright red tops. Both patients required intubation and several milligrams of atropine to handle their bronchial secretions. Several hours before, they had eaten a mushroom stew containing mushrooms they had picked that morning. The family brought in a plastic container of multiple different types of slimy, decaying mushrooms. A trained mycologist identified three different toxic species, including Amanita muscaria, Amanita pantherina, and Inocybe species. The patients made an uneventful recovery and they were warned against future foraging for mushrooms. So began my interest in mushroom toxicity.

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