Third person dies after eating toxic mushrooms

A third person has died from eating poisonous mushrooms at a California senior care facility, authorities said Wednesday.

The person, whose name was not released, died on Saturday, state Department of Social Services spokesman Oscar Ramirez told The Associated Press.

Ramirez said the senior home, Gold Age Villa in Loomis, called Monday to report the third death. State officials are continuing to investigate the incident.

Three other people were sickened when they ate soup made from the poisonous mushrooms on Nov. 8.

The other people who died have been identified as Barbara Lopes, 86, and Teresa Olesniewicz, 73.

The caretaker who prepared the soup, who was among those sickened, apparently picked the mushrooms from the backyard of the six-bed care facility and did not know they were poisonous.

Investigators were quickly able to pinpoint the soup as the source of the problem because the only person living at the home who did not eat dinner that night did not fall ill, authorities have said.

In Northern California, it's the season for wild chanterelle mushrooms - a highly sought variety - and for the amanita species of mushrooms that include what are known as "death cap" and "death angel"
varieties.

Young poisonous North American amanitas often look like an edible version of a wild mushroom popular in Asia.

The California Department of Public Health periodically issues warnings about consumption of wild mushrooms, especially after someone eats a poisonous variety and falls ill. The state recorded 1,700 cases of mushroom-related illnesses from 2009 to 2010, including two deaths.

But state food regulations do not prohibit the use of foraged ingredients in food prepared at care facilities, though they do prevent the use of home-canned foods and unpasteurized milk.

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)

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