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Poisoning

Cases of poisoning due to eating dangerous fungi are, fortunately, extremely uncommon in the British Isles. But they do occur and as more and with the current media interest in collecting wild fungi for the pot, the chances can only increase, particularly if people with little experience are prepared to rely on illustrated books.   For this reason the Trust policy is not to give any advice on edibility.

Unlike in the United States there is no current national database in the United Kingdom of records of poisoning after ingestion of fungi. This is a situation which the Trust believes should be remedied. At the moment, if a case of poisoning is suspected, the recourse is to take the person to a local hospital accident and emergency unit as soon as possible, keeping them calm and still. They should not be adminstered with any 'antidotes' nor with tea or alcohol although it is a good idea, if possible, to make them vomit. Most importantly specimens of the ingested fungus and vomit should accompany them to the hospital.

Problems can arise because most hospital staff and general practitioners are not versed in fungus identification and unless a local mycological expert can be called in the only recourse is to send the material to the National Poisons Information Service in London. This may be worryingly time-consuming. We need much greater collaboration between the national health service, other medical centres and organisations such as the Fungus Conservation Trust.

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