VANCOUVER — The BC Centre for Disease Control says mushroom poisonings are on the rise and it is urging foragers to use extreme caution.
It says its drug and poison information centre received 201 mushroom poisoning calls by the end of last month, just one call fewer than the 202 total calls received for all of 2018.
Poison Control received 161 calls in 2017.
Raymond Li, a pharmacist with the poison centre, says in a news release that two-thirds of the mushroom-related poisoning calls this year have involved children under five.
The release says foragers should be especially wary of the death cap mushroom, which is the most deadly mushroom variety in the world and can be confused with edible varieties.
The centre warns anyone who suspects they may have consumed a poisonous mushroom to call the Drug and Poison Information Centre and seek medical help immediately.
There have been no reported human deaths from death cap mushrooms in British Columbia since 2016 when a child died, however two dogs were killed this year due to possible death cap poisonings.
The centre says death caps have been increasingly popping up on southern Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
The deadly mushroom is most often found in urban areas, rather than the natural forest.
“With increased appearances of death cap mushrooms across B.C. comes increased risk of exposures,” says Paul Kroeger, co-founder, Vancouver Mycological Society. “We urge recreational mushroom hunters to use caution and common sense when foraging wild fungi.”
The centre says there are many other varieties of wild mushrooms that are less toxic than death caps but they can also cause severe illness.