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2 Die After Eating Poisonous Mushrooms

Source: Vientiane Times

Two people died and five others fell seriously ill after they ate poisonous mushrooms picked from the wild in Luang Namtha province.

They developed stomachache and diarrhea after eating the cooked mushrooms and were rushed to the district hospital for emergency treatment.

Information posted on Facebook and obtained from local media quoted a doctor at the hospital as saying the five surviving victims needed blood transfusions but the hospital was running short of supplies, prompting their relatives to appeal for blood donations.

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An anonymous official at the hospital advised everyone to be cautious when picking wild mushrooms, advising that if people are not certain that mushrooms are safe and don’t know what species they are, they should not eat them. 

Most people who fall ill after eating mushrooms do so because they foraged for mushrooms in the wild and took risks by eating unknown species.
Washing and cooking poisonous mushrooms won’t make them less dangerous, he added.

Mushrooms flourish in warm and damp weather which is why they tend to proliferate at the start of the rainy season, including large numbers of poisonous varieties. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify toxic species, the hospital official said.

Only about 3 percent of known mushroom varieties are poisonous. The symptoms of poisoning can vary from gastrointestinal discomfort to liver failure and death, depending on the type of toxin ingested.

According to the Ministry of Health, deaths and illnesses caused by the consumption of poisonous mushrooms have been recorded in previous years.

In July 2022, seven members of the same family in Attapeu province fell ill after eating wild mushrooms, and in 2020 three people in Hadxaifong district, Vientiane died after eating toxic mushrooms.

Laos’ extensive rural areas create the perfect conditions for wild mushrooms, many of which are popular for their good flavour while medicinal properties are attributed to some species.

There is no scientific record of the types of edible and medicinal mushrooms found in Laos. However, there are estimates that at least 100 species are commonly consumed and a much larger number have been categorized in neighboring countries.

China has recorded a total of 6,000 macro-fungal species of which more than 1,000 species are listed as edible or as having medicinal properties.