A GP guide to wild mushroom poisoning

Although rare in Australia, poisonous mushroom ingestion can be fatal, so it is worth knowing when to suspect and how to approach these unusual cases.

Need to know:

  • Poisonous mushroom ingestion is a rare phenomenon in Australia, but deaths have been reported — in particular, following ingestion of Amanita phalloides (the 'death cap' mushroom).
  • A thorough history regarding the mushroom consumed and the clinical symptoms experienced by the patient is crucial in identifying potentially lethal ingestions.
  • Where possible, taking photographs of the mushroom (ideally, intact and uncooked) against a white background with a ruler or marker for size comparison can assist formal identification.
  • Ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms — such as Psilocybe subaeruginosa — results in short-lived and usually benign symptoms. Consider referral to hospital if there is significant behavioural disturbance that could lead to inadvertent injury.
  • Delayed gastrointestinal symptoms should raise suspicion for a possible Amanita phalloides ingestion.
  • Seek expert