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05 December 2023

Two die in Australia from Death Cap mushrooms


Two people have died in Australia while a third remains in hospital after eating poisonous Death Cap mushrooms, a Sydney hospital said Wednesday.

Four people were initially hospitalised after eating the fungi, unaware of its deadly properties, reportedly at a New Year's Eve dinner party in Canberra.

One recovered and was released from a Canberra hospital but the other three were transferred to Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) for treatment.

"Two people at RPA have passed away. The third, however, is still receiving treatment," a spokeswoman for the hospital said Wednesday.

The hospital said it would not be releasing any details about the patients or their treatments out of respect for their privacy, but state media reported that the victims had been awaiting liver transplants.

It is believed that the deadly poisonous mushrooms were mistaken for an edible fungi known as the Paddy Straw mushroom, which is commonly found in Southeast Asia and considered a delicacy.

All parts of the Death Cap mushroom are poisonous and eating just one of the silky white-to-greenish-brown capped, white-gilled fungi can be fatal.

Eating the mushrooms, an introduced species that grows in southeast Australia, causes vomiting within hours and is potentially fatal within days because the toxin they contain is particularly damaging to the liver.

"So you will eventually go into a liver failure and that's how these individuals would have succumbed to death," director of the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre Dr Naren Gunja told the ABC.