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United States Science News

The Death Cap Mushroom Is Spreading Across the US 274

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Discovery News reports that the death cap mushroom is now an invasive species on every continent except Antarctica. It is spreading along the East and West Coasts of the U.S. and appears to be moving south into Mexico. 'When someone eats Amanita phalloides, she typically won't experience symptoms for at least six and sometimes as many as 24 hours,' says Cat Adams. 'Eventually she'll suffer from abdominal cramps, vomiting, and severely dehydrating diarrhea. This delay means her symptoms might not be associated with mushrooms, and she may be diagnosed with a more benign illness like stomach flu. To make matters worse, if the patient is somewhat hydrated, her symptoms may lessen and she will enter the so-called honeymoon phase.' Without proper, prompt treatment, the victim can experience rapid organ failure, coma, and death. But good news is on the way. S. Todd Mitchell of Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California has treated more than 60 patients with a drug derived from milk thistle. The patients who have started the drug on time (within 96 hours of ingesting the mushroom) and who have still had kidney function intact have all survived. 'When administered intravenously, the compound sits on and blocks the receptors that bring amatoxin into the liver, thus corralling the amatoxins into the blood stream so the kidneys can expel them faster,' says Adams. Still, Mitchell cautions against the 'regular look"'of deadly mushrooms. 'They smell very good and when they're cooked, many patients have described them as the most delicious mushrooms they've ever eaten.'"
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The Death Cap Mushroom Is Spreading Across the US

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  • by K10W ( 1705114 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @07:43PM (#46223847)
    should have mentioned I mean they are easy to ID and eating unidentified fungi has always been stupid thing to do
  • Why the hype? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jo7hs2 ( 884069 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @07:48PM (#46223899) Homepage
    Is this hype because it is finding its way into the food supply in stores either via getting into commercial operations accidentally or being picked and sold as something else by wild collectors, or is it just journalistic pomp? Because, as somebody who regularly photographs fungi while out photographing native orchids, I'm willing to bet only a very small percentage of the population would ever even consider eating a wild mushroom. Even 90+ percent of my hiking buddies, all of them reasonably good at plant and fungus IDs, would never consider taking that risk unless it was something very expensive to just buy, like morels.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @08:24PM (#46224233)

    Are there other foods which are (potentially?) dangerous or deadly but are so tasty that it is worth the risk?

    It isn't worth the risk. Death caps inhibit a crucial part of cell metabolism, RNA transcription. It's interesting that they don't kill themselves. People usually die of liver failure since that's where the poison ends up (the diarrhea is of course also a sign of a large number of cell deaths, but those cells are more expendable).

    Nicely tasting, absolutely deadly poisonous mushrooms with wide specificity but a large time-delay (about a week). Good for wiping out major parts of a herd. My guess is that it's due to their symbiosis with hardwood trees: gives some protection to those slow-growing trees from getting stripped of their bark by deer and other planteaters.

    A single mushroom is enough to kill a person. Even with "antidote", you will do more damage to your liver and other organs than 20 years of heavy drinking.

    You cannot compare this to Fugu since properly prepared, the meat of the fish will not cause any damage.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @08:35PM (#46224345)

    "should have mentioned I mean they are easy to ID and eating unidentified fungi has always been stupid thing to do"

    "Easy to ID" is a relative term. Even experts get some fungi wrong. For example, there are poisonous species of Galerina that sometimes grow right alongside the prized hallucinogenic "Liberty Cap" mushrooms, and even experts have to take a spore print and use a microscope to tell them apart.

    As a PSA, here are two warning signs displayed by A Phalloides as in that picture on Wikipedia:

    First is the "veil" surrounding the stem just below the cap, which you can see on the larger mushroom that is setting on its side. The other is the "cup" at the bottom.

    It is important to note that neither of these are reliable indicators. Some edible species of mushrooms have one or both. Many poisonous species of mushrooms do not.

    The point is: unless you know EXACTLY what you are doing, treat those features as strong warning signs. Best not to eat any mushrooms that have them.

  • Re:she (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @09:07PM (#46224613)

    only shes eat it?

    No, they opted to use the pronoun that best describes your average, typical human on Earth.

    Nope, 100% wrong.
    English rules in all English-speaking countries default to the male pronoun when gender is general or unknown. Use of the female pronoun is ONLY in cases where you are only referring to females.
    Any person using the female pronoun by default is simply trying to push some kind of agenda.

  • Re:News for the USA. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @09:35PM (#46224801)

    Less than 30% of Slashdot's community is from the USA (27.3%). If you want all us "furriners" to leave, you'll be doing an even better job of depopulating Slashdot than Beta has. []

    Visitors by Country
    Country Percent of Visitors
    India 36.3%
    United States 27.3%
    United Kingdom 3.6%
    Pakistan 3.1%
    Canada 2.6%

    In other news, Rich NRI asked to pay Rs 50L to ex-wife who earns 65k per month. []

  • Re:she (Score:5, Informative)

    by InfiniteLoopCounter ( 1355173 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @03:10AM (#46226401)

    So? Females are the norm, and males the exception.

    This is not so. By default each human cell is a male cell. Female cells have to be constantly refreshed into being female through hormone release.

    The way it works is that when you are born male you have something called SRY and it increases SOX9 [] and decreases FOXL2 [] which is the "opposite" part of a cell that determines which gender it is. For females it is the otherway around. However, if a female does not suppress SOX9 they will develop male characteristics (this is why you can get an XX male []). The cells default option is to move back toward "maleness" and this is why after menopause women and men aren't really that different (because at a cellular level they are tending towards the same gender expressions).

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents