Thursday, June 13, 2024

Toxic mushroom that killed a toddler two years ago is back in Victoria


Anyone who’s enjoying the outdoors with their pets and kids should take caution, as extremely toxic death cap mushrooms have been found growing in the Uplands and Cedar Hill area.

Island Health issued a warning on Tuesday after the mushrooms were found by the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society.

The death cap mushroom is an invasive species not native to Canada, and can often be found growing underneath various species of imported trees such as beech, hornbeam, chestnut, English oak, and others. However, it’s recently been observed growing with native Garry Oak trees.

The mushrooms can be identified by a white, yellow, or greenish cap, white gills, a white skirt on its stem, and a loose sac-like cup that is only visible below ground.

Death cap mushroom (BC Centre for Disease Control)

A three-year-old Victoria boy died in 2016 after ingesting one of the mushrooms—the first and only recorded death in the province.

What to do if you find death cap mushrooms

Island Health says that picking wild mushrooms should be left to people with “significant expertise.” But if you find death cap mushrooms during everyday activities:

  • wear rubber gloves when removing them,
  • wash your hands thoroughly,
  • package them up with your regular garbage—not with your compost,
  • and remember to remove them before mowing the lawn to avoid local spread.

Island Health also suggests avoiding watering your lawn, unless it’s absolutely necessary, to conserve water and to suppress early fruiting of death caps.

If you think you’ve consumed a poisonous mushroom, go to your nearest hospital, call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 1-800-567-8911, or call 911. Keep a sample of the mushroom for testing.

You can report any mushrooms through the invasive species working group online.

For more information, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Myles Sauer
Former staff editor and writer at Victoria Buzz.

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