The dangerous and lethal death cap mushroom has arrived in Vancouver.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) said Thursday the deadly mushroom has been seen in the city and is warning residents to keep their distance.
The mushroom, which is the most lethal in the world, can cause liver and kidney damage when ingested and even death, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).
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“We particularly worry about children and pets who may not know what they’re consuming,” VCH medical health officer Dr. Emily Newhouse said.
VCH said the mushroom was spotted on a private property in the area of West 10th Avenue and Yukon Street. No one has become ill from the mushroom, they added.
Officials said the sighting was unusual given the time of year, noting death caps are more commonly spotted in the late summer and fall.
The death cap can be identified by its white gills; a yellow, green or white cap; a white ring on the skirt of the stem; and a loose sac-like cup below ground.
The mushroom has become increasingly common in B.C. in recent years. While it’s not native to the province, it hitched a ride on the roots of foreign trees that now line city streets.
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According to a 2008 study by the Vancouver Mycological Society, they have been identified in more than 100 urban sites in Vancouver, and have also been reported in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.
In 2016, a three-year-old Victoria boy died after eating a death cap mushroom.
Since then, the BCCDC ha campaigned to educate people about the mushroom and its effects.
Anyone who believes they, their children or their pet have taken a bite of a death cap should keep the mushroom or take detailed photos to help health care workers identify it, health officials say.
In the case of a suspected poisoning, the BCCDC said people should call poison control immediately.
It said people who have consumed a death cap may think they’re getting better when the initial symptoms subside after 24 hours.
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But it warned that a second wave of more severe symptoms, up to and including organ failure, can occur within 72 hours of consumption.
Within the first 12 hours, patients can experience cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, watery diarrhea and dehydration.
Newhouse said the mushrooms can’t be composted properly to eliminate the threat of them sprouting again.
She said people should instead dispose of them in the garbage or their green bin.
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