Kaarst Seven people in Kaarst and Rommerskirchen fell ill after eating a poisonous death cap mushroom and a 28-year-old woman died. Experts recommend that people react immediately if they develop symptoms and inform the emergency poisoning centre in Bonn.
Following the death of a 28-year-old from Kaarst, who mistook a highly poisonous death cap mushroom for an edible mushroom, the Rhein-Kreis Neuss police have initiated an investigation with an autopsy and toxicological examination. There is apparently no connection between the two families of Russian origin from the district who ate death cap mushrooms last Thursday and were brought to hospitals with severe poisoning.
The highly poisonous mushroom was collected by the Kaarst family in their local area and by the five-person family from Rommerskirchen in a wood in the Evinghoven district. The twelve- and four-year-old children of the family were brought to the university hospital in Cologne on Thursday. Their parents were first admitted to the district hospital in Dormagen-Hackenbroich and were later moved to the university hospitals in Düsseldorf and Cologne. The three victims from Kaarst were transported to the university hospital in Aachen, but help came too late for the 28-year-old daughter.
The problem with poisoning from death cap mushrooms is that there is a delay before the onset of symptoms, said Andreas Schaper from the Göttingen Poison Information Centre. “It is therefore possible to eat them in the evening, but only to experience nausea and vomiting the following morning”, explained Schaper. This is a big difference to food poisoning, in which nausea usually occurs within 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion, but can take up to twelve hours in the case of death cap mushroom poisoning. “If the symptoms appear after a delay, you should immediately go to a hospital”, says Schapers. It also makes sense to inform the emergency poisoning centre in Bonn.
The death cap mushroom is the most poisonous mushroom in Germany, but other fungi can also be poisonous. The Poison Information Centre distinguishes 14 syndromes. “These can involve muscle damage, neurological symptoms or kidney damage, depending on the type of on toadstool”, says Schapers. For example, Cortinarius orellanus, commonly known as the fools webcap. is a fungus that resembles chanterelles, but is highly poisonous and destroys the kidneys.
Schapers therefore advises people who want to collect mushrooms to take a course with a mushroom expert. The website of the German Society for Mycology (www.dgfm-ev.de) lists experts in the area who will examine mushrooms that you bring to them. Moreover, only those species should be collected that can be identified beyond doubt: “It makes no sense to simply taste it or to use mushroom-identification apps. This can easily lead to confusion, which can be life-threatening”.
(Original text: Susanne Hamann und Klaus-Dieter Schumilas, translation John Chandler)