FORAGERS are being warned to be cautious after a woman died from eating a poisonous mushroom in her garden.
Christina Hale, 57, died from multi-organ failure after eating highly toxic death cap mushrooms.
Her husband, Jocelyn, 48, was also treated after eating some of the batch, but he has since been discharged from hospital.
An inquest has been opened and adjourned into the death last week at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, of Mrs Hale, of Spaxton Road, Bridgwater.
Andy Overall, of mushroom group Fungi to Be With, said: “It’s very rare to hear of people dying from eating mushrooms in this country – it probably happens less than once a year.
“Nowadays, with foraging being more common, you do hear of people getting upset stomachs from mushrooms they’ve eaten, but if anyone eats a death cap and isn’t treated within 12 hours they’re in serious trouble.
“My advice about wild mushrooms is if in doubt, don’t touch them.”
Death caps, which are usually greenish and have a stalk up to six inches tall, appear from September to November.
People who eat them will not notice any symptoms for around 12 hours, when they will experience vomiting, diarrhoea and cramps.
The person will then feel fine, but three or four days later they will suffer kidney or liver failure and die five to ten days after eating the death caps.
Dr John Thompson, of the Nat-ional Poisons Information Service, said: “While many mushrooms growing in the wild are tasty and safe to eat, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between toxic and non-toxic species, even for people with experience in foraging.
“We advise people not to eat mushrooms collected in the wild unless they’re familiar with the various species which grow in the UK and are sure the mushrooms they’ve collected are safe to eat."