MICHIGAN: Morel mushroom lookalikes lead to outbreak of poisoning cases
Posted: May 31st, 2011 - 7:28pm
KALAMAZOO — A spike in poison mushroom cases — including a Kalamazoo 2-year-old — has prompted the Michigan Department of Community Health to issue this warning to mushroom hunters: Be sure you know what you’re eating and how to prepare it correctly.
At least 11 Michigan people have been hospitalized so far this year with severe toxicity after eating bad mushrooms. Last year, there were no hospitalizations.
“We’ve had 53 calls so far this year,” said Susan Smolinske, director of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Regional Poison Control Center in Detroit, the poison center for the state. “Last year at this time, we had 26 (calls).”
The culprit is largely two mushrooms — the beefsteak (Gyromitra esculenta) and early morel (Verpabohemica), Smolinske said.
Both mushrooms are commonly mistaken for true morels, the Michigan delicacy that sends gourmets into a frenzy every year. But even true morels can make people sick if they are improperly prepared, or if they are consumed with alcohol or in large quantities or by people who have developed sensitivity to the mushrooms, Smolinske said.