(Image/Paul Kroeger)

Dog-walkers and parents of curious kids beware!

The District of Oak Bay has issued a warning about death cap mushrooms that are beginning to grow in the municipality.

These mushrooms can cause serious poisoning and may be lethal if ingested by people, particularly children, and pets.

According to BCCDC, the poisonous death cap mushroom has been spotted in urban areas and is warning people to keep an eye out for the mushroom, especially around young children and pets.

In 2019, a 16-week-old puppy died at the Victoria Humane Society after consuming what authorities suspect were death cap mushrooms.

And back in 2016, a 3-year-old boy passed away after eating a death cap mushroom he had foraged in downtown Victoria.

How to identify “death cap” mushrooms

Although we’re used to the idea that poisonous mushrooms are often larger or more ostentatious, death caps actually look a lot like non-poisonous, edible mushrooms.

They usually have a greenish-gold hue and a large, swollen bulb that can only be seen once they are dug up.

Symptoms of ingesting the toxic mushroom include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, liver and kidney failure, and possibly death. They generally appear between six and 24 hours after consumption.

So if you do find these silent killers in your yard, be sure to dig them up and throw them away before they cause any harm! Make sure to bag them and throw them in the garbage and not the compost.

While skin contact with death caps is not a risk, it is recommended to wear gloves. Mowing the lawn will not get rid of the mushroom fungus (most of the fungus lives underground), and removal before mowing to avoid spread is recommended.

Mushrooms typically emerge during wetter months and while the summer has been extremely dry, it is believed the mushrooms are sprouting due to people watering their lawns.

Anyone who suspects they may have consumed a death cap mushroom is asked to go to their nearest hospital immediately, call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 1-800-567-8911 or call 911, and keep a sample of the mushroom for testing.

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