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Mushroom victim awaits liver

| 05.01,12. 03:39 AM |


Mushroom victim awaits liver

January 5, 2012
A THIRD victim of death cap mushroom poisoning is believed to be awaiting a liver transplant after two people died from eating the toxic mushrooms at a New Year's Eve dinner party in Canberra.

The 51-year-old man remains in a critical but stable condition at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown, and a fourth man was discharged from Canberra Hospital on Tuesday.

The deceased - a woman, 52, and a man, 38 - were flown from Canberra's Calvary Hospital on New Year's Day to the RPA and had been waiting for liver transplant operations.

Advertisement: Story continues below The victims' identities have not yet been released.

The director of Canberra Hospital emergency department, Dr Michael Hall, said the patient discharged on Tuesday would not have any long-term problems. ''We believe that he had a much smaller serve,'' he said.

The deceased and their dinner companions are believed to be Chinese, and the death cap mushrooms were believed to have been mistaken for a mushroom considered a delicacy in Chinese cooking.

It is not known if the mushrooms were picked or bought before the poisoning.

Death cap mushrooms are unique to the Canberra and Southern Highlands regions and typically are found beneath oak trees. They are filled with amatoxin, a poison that can attack enzymes involved in producing DNA and cause liver failure.

The recent deaths increase the number of fatalities associated with death cap mushrooms in the ACT to five. During the last decade there have been about 13 reported cases of poisoning.

Doctors and health officers said they would step up a public information campaign and warnings against picking wild mushrooms in the region.

Dr Hall said death cap poisonings had a high fatality rate.

''This tragic event shows exactly how dangerous it is to go out collecting wild mushrooms,'' he said. ''The small button death cap can be very difficult to distinguish from an edible mushroom. Anyone who suspects they might have eaten death cap mushrooms should seek urgent medical help.''

Acting ACT chief health officer, Andrew Pengilley, said the health department regularly placed warnings about the dangers of the death cap in foreign language publications.


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