The weather this year has been challenging. But all the rain and humid weather has been great for our gardens, plants, ducks and mushrooms. Mushrooms have been popping up on lawns and gardens and parks nearly everywhere. To a child these look pretty, are new and interesting and even might look like the characters on their cartoons. But beware.
In Ohio, we have a broad variety of types of mushrooms, including some of the deadliest types including “the death angel” or amanita phalloides. Mushrooms grow quite rapidly and may appear to spring up suddenly overnight. Distinguishing between varieties is difficult and requires an expert. To the average person, certain edible mushrooms look remarkably similar to some of the deadliest mushrooms. Every year in Ohio we have a number of hospitalized adults who “thought” they knew which were the safe types and ended up VERY wrong. In recent years we have had a number of cases of liver damage and even liver failure from adults choosing the wrong mushroom. A young child may think the new pretty mushrooms are interesting and want to play with them and even taste them.
In 2012, the Central Ohio Poison Center managed 78 mushroom ingestions. So far with this wet season of 2013, we have already had 74 cases of mushroom ingestion and the year is only half through.
So when playing outside this season, be aware of the mushrooms. If you have small children in the home, remember that wonderful curious nature may sometimes get them into trouble. If you have questions call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Save the number in your cell phone or call for a free magnet with the poison center number and an information packet how to poison proof your home.
Henry Spiller is the director of the Central Ohio Poison Center. He has spent more than 30 years in toxicology, with more than 300 publications in the field.
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