PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
November 20, 2014

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

NJ Department of Health Reminds Residents of the Dangers of Mushroom Poisoning

The New Jersey Department of Health is reminding residents to be aware of the dangers of eating wild mushrooms.

Wild mushrooms often look like harmless edible mushrooms but are poisonous. Even a few bites of these mushrooms can cause severe illness such as intense vomiting and diarrhea, damage to vital organs and in some cases can cause death,

"Since there is no easy way to tell the difference between poisonous and harmless mushrooms, the best advice is not to eat wild mushrooms," said New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "Even experienced mushroom pickers can be fooled at times, so this warning needs to be given and taken seriously. Children should be taught never to put wild plants, berries, nuts, or mushrooms into their mouths. And keep in mind pets are susceptible to mushroom poisoning as well."

Since August 1, the Department has received 11 reports of mushroom poisoning cases. All became sick after eating wild mushrooms.

The New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) recommends if someone in your family eats wild mushrooms, call the NJ Poison Experts at 1-800-222-1222. Having a poison expert give you exact instructions for a specific situation can help significantly during those critical first few minutes

However, if someone is unconscious, not breathing, seizing/convulsing, bleeding profusely, difficult to arouse or wake up, call 911 immediately.

When calling NJ PIES, an expert will help identify the mushroom and provide advice on further management. A digital photograph should be taken of the mushroom(s) in question. It helps to take a picture of the mushroom next to other objects such as a coin or a ruler to provide a sense of scale.

Any health care provider treating a suspect case of mushroom poisoning should contact their local health department to report the suspect illness. Local health departments are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Contact information during business hours can be found at: www.localhealth.nj.gov.   Contact information for after business hours or on weekends can be found at: https://nj.gov/health/lh/documents/lhd_after_hours_emerg_contact_numbers.pdf.

If local health department staff is unavailable, healthcare providers should report the case to the NJDOH, Communicable Disease Service (CDS) at 609-826-5964, Monday through Friday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

Last Reviewed: 11/20/2014