Department of Health issues poisonous mushroom warning for Victorians and their pets

All Victorians are being urged to check their properties for wild mushrooms, which can put humans and their pets at risk of serious illness or even death.

They might look like something straight from the pages of a Little Golden Book fairy tale, but there is nothing dainty about death cap (Amanita phalloides) or yellow-staining (Agaricus xanthodermus) mushrooms.

The latter can cause nausea and vomiting, while the death cap is aptly named; eating just one can kill an adult.

The department’s advisory said cooking, peeling or drying the mushrooms would not remove or inactivate the poison.

Both species are among the poisonous mushrooms cropping up across the state, according to the Department of Health’s recent health advisory.

Humans have been told to avoid collecting and consuming any wild mushrooms of unknown species and have been urged to keep their animals away from them.

“Pets can develop a range of illnesses from eating wild mushrooms, including gastroenteritis-type syndrome to severe life-threatening disease and death,” Deputy Chief Health Officer Angie Bone said in a statement.

Death cap mushrooms can cause serious illness or death in adults.(Supplied: Alison Pouliot)

Dogs at most risk

RSPCA Victoria senior vet Christina Tee told ABC News dogs were more likely than cats to eat poisonous mushrooms.

“Just because dogs are more likely to sniff around, pet owners taking them out for a walk … it’s more uncommon for cats to go out on a walk,” Dr Tee said.

A kelpie stands in grass as the sun sets in the background
Pet owners are being urged to monitor dogs for symptoms of mushroom poisoning.(Supplied: ABC Open/Ellie Morris)

There is added risk for working dogs operating on vast rural properties.

Which mushrooms are poisonous?

Dr Tee said if you located any mushrooms on your property, it was important to remove them carefully.

“It’s hard to know what’s poisonous and what’s not. The only way to avoid your pet ingesting them is to remove the mushroom,” she said.

“Wear gloves and avoid touching it, wash your hands after removing them, and make sure you put them in a plastic bag.

“Dispose of them safely, so your pets can’t get to them afterwards.”

The Department of Health said if people suspected the had eaten a poisonous mushroom, they should urgently attend an emergency department.

Small blue mushrooms growing on a log
The pixie’s parasol (Mycena interrupta) grows in wetter forests of south-eastern Australia.(Supplied: Alison Pouliot)

If you believe your pet might have eaten one, contact your local vet immediately.

In both circumstances, bringing the mushroom with you for identification purposes is recommended.

Further information about poisonous mushrooms can be found at health.vic.gov.au/health-advisories/poisonous-mushrooms-growing-in-victoria.

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