Rainy season may heighten mushroom poisoning

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mushroomKenyan parents should be on the lookout for mushroom poisoning which is heightened by the onset of the rainy season.

“Mushrooms grow like threadlike structures underground, when the rains come the growing conditions are changed and the mushrooms know that it is time to produce fruit. The cap we see on the soil is the mushroom fruit,” said Mbacia Ng’ethe, Head of Research and Development at Mushroom Blue-an urban mushroom farm.

Mushrooms are fungi which grow off other plant material. They are considered nature’s version of the internet due.

“This is due to the mycelium growing in the soil that has the ability to connect trees, shrubs and other plant material. This allows the plants to communicate and even fight off disease,” said Mbacia.

Mushrooms are edible but there are also poisonous ones which must not even be touched.

“The poisonous mushrooms are very dangerous and are known to kill in as little as 8 minutes,” said Mbacia.

A common type of poisonous mushroom is the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides).

“Scientists have found that this mushroom has two major toxins, multicyclic and peptides. These have the ability to induce inhibition of vital enzymes thereby causing cell metabolism to come to a halt and the cell dies,” said Mbacia.

Despite its rarity in Kenya, when mushrooming poisoning occurs, the liver is the first organ to be affected. Within the first two to three days, symptoms that will be noticed are gastrointestinal in nature. There may also be vomitting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and dehydration.

Afterwards, jaundice, seizures and a coma may occur due to severe damage or liver failure. The kidney may also become affected.

If one suspects mushroom poisoning, immediate hospitilization is required. Mbacia also recommends carrying a sample of the mushroom which will help the doctor’s assessment.

Most mushrooms from afar look alike but it takes an expert to distinguish between the poisonous and the non-poisonous ones. Mbacia advises parents to remind their children not to touch let alone try to eat a mushroom growing outside one’s home.

If you find a mushroom growing outside your home and are not sure about its toxicity, you may dispose of it using a plastic bag thereby avoiding contact, advises Mbacia.

Those seeking to find out more about the identification of a mushroom and its toxicity, they can take a photo and load it onto the Facebook group-Kenya Fungi and Mycology Community where they are bound to get expert help.

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