Spike in wild mushroom poisonings prompts warning in Walcha

At least eight people in NSW have been admitted to hospital after being poisoned by wild mushrooms last month, prompting a warning from authorities.

The NSW Poisons Information Centre said five of those were the result of intentionally eating mushrooms foraged from fields. The other three were children who accidentally picked them and decided to try them.

"If not properly identified, mushrooms picked in the wild can make you very ill and could be lethal, so people should only eat shop-bought mushrooms," co-head of the centre Genevieve Adamo said on Wednesday.

"Cooking or boiling wild mushrooms does not make them safe to eat," she said.

"Poisonous mushrooms can cause severe abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating, confusion and hallucinations. Some varieties of mushrooms can cause severe kidney and liver damage, and some can be fatal."

Recent rain across NSW has created perfect growing conditions for wild mushrooms, but it is difficult for most people to distinguish between edible and poisonous varieties.

Some poisonous mushrooms in Australia look similar to edible wild mushrooms in Europe.

"There are many mushroom species growing in the wild including the death cap mushroom for example, which can cause serious poisoning and potentially fatal organ damage," Ms Adamo said.

"There is no reliable way to identify mushrooms picked in the wild, so it's best to avoid eating them completely. It is simply not worth the risk."

Pine forest plantations around the Walcha area provide the perfect habitat for mushrooms to grow.

"While we do not actively promote or encourage mushrooming, we know that people have been foraging for mushrooms in and around state forest plantations for many years," said Forestry Corporation regional manager Jason Molkentin.

"We cannot emphasise strongly enough that people should heed warnings from the NSW Poisons Information Centre."

Last year, the centre received 218 calls about wild mushroom exposure and 70 people were admitted to hospital with poisoning.

Anyone who ingests wild mushrooms should contact the Poisons Information Centre (13 11 26) immediately, even if they are completely well as symptoms can be delayed in onset and early treatment is vital.

In an emergency, people should call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance or seek medical treatment through their doctor or local hospital emergency department.