Migrants' New Peril: Death Caps

Some may be mistaking the poisonous mushrooms for similar, edible varieties
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2015 6:02 AM CDT
Migrants' New Peril: Death Caps
A migrant woman holds her face as she sits on a fire in the early morning in a temporary holding camp for migrants near the border line between Serbia and Hungary.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

As if the thousands of migrants streaming into Europe haven't already encountered enough roadblocks, another peril looms: poisonous mushrooms known as death caps (Amanita phalloides). They resemble a number of varieties one can safely eat, and those who mistakenly forage for them can experience fatal liver and kidney damage upon consuming them. Some 35 people, most of them Syrian refugees, have been sickened by death caps in Germany in recent days, reports the AP; as of yesterday, three people were in critical condition.

They're being treated at the Hannover Medical School, which lays out the dangers: "Since this fungus has no repellent taste and the first symptoms occur only after several hours, the risk of getting sick from its consumption is extremely high." The hospital has gone so far as to distribute posters in Arabic, Kurdish, and other languages that say just that and warn that what looks like "a delicious edible mushroom" is in fact poisonous in Europe, reports the New York Times. The paper notes the invasive species is found in the US, particularly in California, where it sickens a few people—often Southeast Asian immigrants who mistake it for the paddy straw mushroom—annually. (More Syrian refugees stories.)

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