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Saturday
Jun032017

CDC: 'Death cap' mushroom responsible for 14 illnesses in California in late 2016

syaber/iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- More than a dozen people fell ill near the end of 2016 due to a bloom of deadly mushrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report put out on Friday.

The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report blames Amanita phalloides, commonly known as the "death cap" mushroom, for the 14 cases noted in November and December 2016. According to the report, members of the Bay Area Mycological Society notified employees of the California Poison Control System of a larger than normal bloom of the dangerous mushroom in the area.

Less than one week after that notification, the first human case of poisoning from the mushroom was reported. Thirteen more people were treated over the next two weeks.

Little information was known about the sicknesses until the CDC report this week.

The first case involved a 37-year-old man who picked a pair of wild mushrooms in Santa Rosa, California. He cooked and ate one of the mushrooms, developing symptoms of A. phalloides poisoning just hours later. He was treated at a local emergency department and released six days later.

At least five other people fell ill after a woman prepared and grilled the mushrooms for a family meal. The mushrooms, the CDC report says, were given to the woman by a person she did not know, who said they had been picked earlier in the day. The woman, her husband, her sister, her 18-month-old daughter and a family friend all fell ill after the meal.

The child required a liver transplant and suffered permanent neurological impairment. The woman's sister also underwent a liver transplant.

In total, three of the 14 patients required liver transplants.

After ingesting the mushroom cap, patients suffer from dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting and cramping, and eventually failure of the liver and other organs.

The "death cap" mushroom can be abundant in the early wet winter months, particularly in climates similar to California's. Experts recommend extreme caution when foraging or purchasing wild mushrooms for consumption.

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