Mushroom poisonings on the rise in BC

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 61 , No. 10 , December 2019 , Pages 396-397 News

The BC Centre for Disease Control’s Drug and Poison Information Centre is urging British Columbians to use extreme caution when foraging or consuming wild mushrooms. Poison Control received 201 mushroom poisoning calls as of 30 September 2019, well on track to being one of the most active years in recent history.

Amanita phalloides, also known as the death cap mushroom, has been increasingly popping up throughout BC, including in Victoria and South Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Metro Vancouver, and the Fraser Valley region. The death cap is the most poisonous mushroom in the world, most often found in urban areas here. There have been no reported human deaths from BC death cap mushrooms since 2016 when a child passed away; however, two dogs have died due to possible death cap poisoning in 2019.

Facts about the Amanita phalloides (death cap):

  • Death cap mushrooms are believed to kill more people worldwide than any other mushroom.
  • Death caps are particularly dangerous because of their resemblance to edible varieties of mushrooms. They can be mistaken for edible puffballs when young or the Asian Straw mushroom when older.
  • Toxins found in death caps include amatoxins, phallotoxins, and virotoxins.
  • Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, low blood pressure, liver failure, and kidney failure.
  • Illness begins 8 to 12 hours after ingestion, beginning with gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, followed by apparent recovery.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms recur and damage to the kidney and liver progresses over the next 3 to 6 days.

Tips to stay safe while mushroom hunting:

  • If you are unsure, don’t eat it!
  • Only pick and eat mushrooms that are well known to be edible and easy to distinguish from poisonous varieties.
  • If you suspect you’ve consumed a poisonous mushroom, call the Drug and Poison Information Centre 24-hour phone line at 1 800 567-8911 and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Only hunt for mushrooms in safe terrain and exercise extreme caution if in remote areas.
  • Save one of each kind of mushroom so their identities can be confirmed should symptoms develop.

Learn more

Visit the BCCDC’s information page on the death cap mushroom to familiarize yourself with what it looks like and what to do if sighted or ingested:

There are many other varieties of wild mushrooms that are less toxic than death caps but can also cause severe illness. Search for “wild mushrooms” on for additional resources.

For information on which mushrooms in BC are edible and which are poisonous, visit UBC’s Mushrooms Up! database:

For more information on the Vancouver Mycological Society and their resources on poisonous mushrooms, visit

. Mushroom poisonings on the rise in BC. BCMJ, Vol. 61, No. 10, December, 2019, Page(s) 396-397 - News.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply