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Home Health Beware of Amanita Phalloides: The Deadly Death-cap Mushrooms

Beware of Amanita Phalloides: The Deadly Death-cap Mushrooms

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Beware of Amanita Phalloides: The Deadly Death-cap Mushrooms

The Amanita Phalloides is an extremely dangerous poisonous fungus found in Europe. It is now sprouting all around the world.

What is the Amanita Phalloides?

There are around 70-80 species of poisonous mushrooms; ingestion of only a few of these proves fatal. However, what makes these fungi so dangerous is their resemblance to edible species.

The Amanita Phalloides is one such example. It is an extremely poisonous fungus belonging to the genus Amanita. These mushrooms look similar to edible species such as straw mushroom and Caesar’s mushroom. The mushrooms consist of the Amatoxins class of toxin, which are thermostable, or resistant to heat. Therefore, cooking these mushrooms does not reduce its toxic effect.

These mushrooms are one of the most poisonous species known. According to estimates, a mere half mushroom is enough to kill an adult human. A majority of deaths caused by mushroom poisoning have been attributed to the death-cap mushroom. According to research, the principal toxic constituent, α-amanitin, causes liver and kidney failure.

How to identify Death-cap Mushrooms?

Death-cap mushrooms are largely white in color, with white spores. The caps are generally off-white with tints of pale green, olive green, or yellow. The older mushroom caps may become brown. Mature mushrooms will have a couple of large cracks on the caps. The diameter of the cap will range from 3 to 6 inches. The mushroom will have thin gills under the cap. These fine gills are white-colored and finely attached to the stem. The gills will be densely crowded together near the outer edges of the cap.

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Another way to identify these mushrooms is to examine the stalk. The stalk will be tall and thick with white or yellowish color. The stalks are also covered with fine scales sometimes. The bottom of the stalk, or the volva, is generally quite large, with a diameter of almost 1.6 inches. Death-cap mushrooms also have a thin membrane encircling the stalk just below the cap. This membrane, or the “skirt”, will be white in color and loosely cling to the stalk.

These mushrooms smell slightly like ammonia or household cleaners. They also feel sticky to the touch and might leave a little adhesive residue when tapped.

Lastly, check for the spore print. The mushroom cap can be placed on a dark paper with the gills facing down and left overnight. The next morning, the spore print of a death-cap mushroom will be white in color.

Where is it found?

The death-cap was earlier a native to Europe but has now spread almost all over the world. It has been found in regions like Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, Russia, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Morocco. The species has also been found in the Americas and Australia.

Symptoms of Death-cap Poisoning

Most people who have been poisoned by this mushroom claim that this is one of the tastiest kinds they have eaten. Within 6-12 hours of ingestion, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and stomach ache will occur. This may be followed by improvement in a day or so, leading to a false sense of recovery. However, by this stage, the toxin will have caused serious damage to the liver. Symptoms can then return after 3-5 days. If left untreated, this poisoning can lead to death due to liver and kidney failure within a week or two.

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Consumption of a death-cap mushroom is therefore considered a medical emergency and requires hospitalization. Preliminary care is the first stage of treatment, followed by supportive measures. This will be followed by specific treatments, and if needed, liver transplant.

Other Poisonous Mushrooms

Below are some of the world’s most poisonous mushrooms:

Conocybe filaris: Found in the Pacific Northwest, this innocent-looking mushroom has toxins that are similar to the death-cap mushrooms. This mushroom can cause death if ingested.

Webcaps: These mushrooms have a poison called orellanin. On ingestion, this poison causes symptoms like those in flu. Symptoms often take 2-3 days to appear and can cause a misdiagnosis. It can cause kidney failure and death if untreated.

Autumn Skullcap: This species is commonly found in the Northern Hemisphere and some parts of Australia. Ingestion of this species can cause diarrhea, hypothermia, liver damage, and death.

Destroying Angels: This is a group of mushrooms belonging to the genus Amanita. These all-white mushrooms are very toxic, and similar in appearance to button mushrooms. Symptoms appear within 5-24 hours and can lead to death if untreated.

Podostroma cornu-damae: This is a rare species found in Asia. It consists of a potent toxin called trichothecene mycotoxins that can cause multiple organ failure. If ingested, this mushroom can cause peeling skin, hair loss, liver necrosis, kidney failure, low blood pressure, and even death.

Deadly Dapperling: This mushroom also consists of amatoxins. It is found throughout Europe and in certain parts of Asia. Ingestion can lead to liver toxicity and even death.

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