ACT News

Public safety warning issued after death cap mushrooms found in Canberra

Canberra's chief doctor has issued a public safety warning after the discovery of deadly death cap mushrooms in several locations this week.

The wild mushrooms are normally spotted during Autumn months although a deluge of rain and cooler temperatures has led to early sightings in the capital. 

The sighting of death cap mushrooms in Canberra has the government worried.
The sighting of death cap mushrooms in Canberra has the government worried.  Photo: Supplied

Independent botanist Richard Windsor said he had noticed death cap mushrooms in Glebe and Commonwealth Parks as early as mid-January close to children's play equipment

There have been a number of poisonings including four fatalities associated with death cap mushrooms in Canberra since 2000.

"In light of these sightings, I'm reminding the Canberra community that death cap mushrooms are extremely poisonous and can easily be confused with other wild mushrooms," ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Kelly said.

"Death cap mushrooms grow mainly near established oak trees in the wet, warm weather typically observed in late summer and autumn.

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Four ACT residents were poisoned by the mushrooms last year with two transported to Sydney for medical treatment after suffering liver complications.

The four people lived in the same house and ate the mushrooms in the same meal. As little as five grams – or a teaspoon – of a death cap mushroom is enough to kill an adult.

Dr Kelly said Canberrans should not pick or eat any wild mushroom as it was extremely difficult for even experienced collectors to identify the death cap variety.

"All parts of the Death Cap mushroom are poisonous, and eating just one can be fatal," he said. "Cooking the Death Cap mushroom does not make it safe to eat."

"Anyone who suspects they may have eaten Death Cap mushrooms should seek urgent medical attention at a hospital emergency department.

Dr Kelly said people treated for poison immediately after consumption had a better chance of survival. He also urged people to only purchase mushrooms from reputable suppliers.